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Is MBBS Abroad a Good Option for Indian Students? [Harsh Reality]

MBBS is the first step you take towards entering the field of medicine, one of the most sought-after careers today. 

The NEET 2022 medical entrance exam saw 95% attendance on 17th July 2022, National Testing Agency (NTA) informed. As many as 18,72,329 candidates had registered for the exams this year, which had received the highest number of applications ever.

As per reports by Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya in Lok Sabha on Friday (22nd July 2022), the total number of MBBS seats available in India for the 2022-23 batch is 91,927 seats. Government medical colleges account for 48,012 seats, while private medical colleges account for 43,915 seats.

The data, when accounted for, constitutes about 20 students competing for one seat. Doing the maths, only about 5% of the NEET aspirants manage to bag a seat. As you can see, the competition is fierce.

In addition to high levels of competition and a large number of applicants competing for government medical seats, private medical colleges charge high fees, making medical education unaffordable. Due to these reasons, many students choose to pursue medical education in foreign universities, where overall costs are slightly lower than in India. But is it really worth it? Let’s find out!

Is MBBS Abroad a Good Option for Indian Students?

NMC (National Medical Council) doesn’t recognize medical degrees from any other country except for 5 English-speaking developed countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

Studying in the above countries can be extremely expensive. That’s why every year, more than 10,000 Indian students go to countries such as China, Ukraine, Russia, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Poland, Armenia, Nepal, and others to pursue undergraduate medical courses. 

Studying in countries other than the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand requires one to pass the FMGE (Foreign Medical Graduate Exam) or MCI Screening Test which is a licensing exam required to practice in India. It is conducted by the National Board of Examination (NBE).

Unfortunately, as per reports by NBE, a total of 22,092 candidates registered for the 2022 FMGE exam (July session), out of which, only 2,346 students passed. This amounts to a pass percentage of merely 10.61% which translates to about 1 in 10 students passing the exam. 

Despite qualifying in the FMGE exam, candidates are still required to apply for an internship at an NMC-registered medical college in India. One year is the duration of the internship. It will be only then that he or she will be permitted to practice.

Since the pass percentage in FMGE is alarmingly low, the expenses are high, and NMC recognizes only a handful of countries’ medical degrees, studying MBBS abroad definitely involves a great deal of uncertainty and risk, and is not a very lucrative option for Indian students. 

After years of study and spending a fortune, you will get a piece of paper that must be validated by a screening test and an internship in India.

In 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and nearly 20,000 Indian medical students had no choice but to return to India.

Further, more than 10,000 Indian medical students studying in the Philippines are in jeopardy since the NMC has invalidated the pre-medical course (BS+MD curriculum) offered in the Philippines, making students ineligible to practice in India. Consequently, the students may need to choose a different career path.

Disadvantages of Studying MBBS Abroad

1. Insufficient clinical exposure

Without adequate exposure to patients, medical education is incomplete. Regardless of how well you understand clinical and non-clinical concepts, if you do not apply them to patients, you will always only gain an incomplete understanding. The density of the population in some countries is very low, which results in an extremely low patient exposure level. 

There are also some countries that do not even offer internship opportunities in hospitals due to their high student intake and lack of infrastructure to accommodate them all. Upon their return to India, these students find it difficult to compete with other students and are unable to clear the FMGE exam despite multiple attempts.

2. Language barrier

You will not face serious problems if you are migrating to one of the English-speaking countries, but still, you may have trouble understanding the slang and accent. 

However, if you are migrating to a non-English-speaking country, you will face a tougher challenge. Learning the local language is necessary if you wish to study in a country where English is not the native language. One needs a good command of the local language in order to interact effectively with patients. It is also important to be aware that the faculty may not be fluent in English in some countries.

3. Inadequate standard of study

We talk about so many countries when we talk about MBBS abroad, and it’s obvious that we can’t generalize the quality of education in each of them. They are all different in terms of pros and cons. 

But a lack of quality in education is apparent, and books and syllabi are not completely in line with mainstream universities in India. 

There is a lot of room for improvement in teaching, and students must be self-motivated in order to learn anything. The examinations aren’t very challenging and don’t require students to work very hard. 

4. Challenging MCI screening test

Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), also known as the MCI (Medical Council of India) Screening Test, is a licensure examination conducted by the National Board of Examinations (NBE).

In order to practice medicine in India, an Indian citizen with a medical degree from an institution outside the country must pass the test. It is a demanding and challenging exam. Questions will be asked from the comprehensive and vast MBBS syllabus (with 19 subjects).

Based on the data collected from NBE, the number of medical students from many countries attempting FMGE has been increasing while the passing rate is still consistently below 20% on average.

5. Risk of fraudĀ 

There is a high probability that you will meet someone who will mislead you. Some will assist you, but most won’t. Hence, you should do your own thorough research rather than blindly follow others. 

It is also advisable not to trust friends who promise to get you in since they will most likely get a commission for your admission and you will therefore be misled.

Students are kept unaware of extreme climatic conditions in some countries, as well as the bi-lingual nature of most universities’ teaching languages. Parents are shown a lower cost of education by undervaluing the base currency, and many expenses are not even included.

Advantages of Studying MBBS Abroad 

1. International exposure

Student life in a foreign country will allow you to meet people from different countries, backgrounds, and ethnicities, and give you international exposure, which will be tremendously helpful if you wish to settle in that country. 

2. Personality development

It is a life-changing experience for an individual to study abroad. Students who are exposed to the outside world learn to be independent and responsible. To establish a co-culture environment, many foreign universities prefer taking students from different countries. 

As a result, they learn new languages, exchange ideas, and become more confident in their communication skills. For sophisticated professionals like doctors, these soft skills are essential.

Is MBBS good in India or abroad?

If you wish to settle in India, an MBBS in India is more advantageous than an MBBS abroad. India will not only provide you with exceptional clinical exposure but also a high standard of education, while you are in the comfort of your own country.

I’m a medical student myself, and I believe our native country India is the most suitable place to pursue an MBBS. Jai hind!

Final Thoughts

If you were unable to crack NEET in your first attempt, there is always the option to drop a year if you’re confident that your second attempt will be successful. The good news is that the upper age limit for attempting NEET has been removed by the NMC. If you have the willpower and determination, dropping a year will be better for you than pursuing an MBBS abroad.

Another option is to join a private medical college if finances don’t seem to be a problem.

There are also a lot of other bright medical fields such as:

  • BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery)
  • BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery)
  • BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery)
  • BVMS (Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery)
  • BUMS (Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery)
  • BNYS (Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences)
  • BPT (Bachelor of Physiotherapy)
  • B Pharm (Bachelor of Pharmacy in Pharmaceutics)
  • D Pharm (Diploma in Pharmacy)
  • BSc (Bachelor of Science)
  • Biotechnology

Other courses, such as those not related to medicine, are plentiful as well. One thing that I would like to add:

It’s a noble profession to be a doctor, but it’s not the only profession.

Nevertheless, if you’re hell-bent on going abroad and pursuing MBBS, I’d suggest being very cautious about choosing the right college, checking its FMGE pass percentage, whether it’s feasible financially, analyzing future prospects and taking the full picture into consideration before deciding. It may be a good idea to pursue your MBBS abroad if you have everything figured out and are highly confident that you will work hard to pass the FMGE eventually.

Do you consider studying MBBS abroad a good option? Let me know in the comments below!

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