Online courses hurt internship chances for doctors who studied abroad

ByMike V. Cooper

Jun 6, 2022

Some medical students who have taken courses in Russia cannot register for the compulsory internship in India. They knocked on the doors of the administration for help, without success so far.

During the pandemic, some students returned to India and continued the program online as borders were closed and flights were not operated.

In Russia, medical students follow a 6-year program, consisting of 12 semesters. Several students took the 11th semester online due to the pandemic. They then returned to complete the course as the government holds the final exam in 12 e semester and they are assessed by external examiners.

Those who completed their courses have since returned and also qualified for the overseas medical graduate examination. Such candidates can apply for an internship in India. However, the Tamil Nadu Medical Council refused to approve some students’ applications. Some of them with high scores have registered in New Delhi and started internship in the hospitals of this state.

A Chennai student who qualified for FMG in December 2021 is not yet able to enroll in TNMC. Several students in her batch had completed interim verification, but her application was pending because she had taken online courses between September 1, 2020 and March 27, 2021.

She said she reworked her online courses after returning to Russia and also submitted a letter from her university to the Council. The Directorate of Medical Education assigning CRRI places according to seniority, she is worried about not being able to do her internship.

A city-based education consultant for Russian medical colleges said universities are asking students to stay in the country to take the exam in physical mode. Some students had approached his agency, he said, adding, “We are now trying to arrange additional data requested by the TNMC.”

Council Chairman K. Senthil said it was to undergo the mandatory clinical experience during medical training. “If students missed an entire semester, they have to do it again,” he said. According to him, more than 110 students, mostly from Russia and Georgia, who had returned to India were facing problems.

Some had taken online classes for a few weeks or months, but others had taken an entire semester online and only returned to take the required offline test.

“There are some who have completed the course and returned to India despite the pandemic and they have been registered. The FMG is just a licensing exam with objective type questions. It cannot test clinical knowledge. We are awaiting guidance from the National Medical Council as the Supreme Court has ordered it to settle the issue of students in Chinese universities within eight weeks,” he explained.

“Ideally, a student who returned halfway through the course should go back and complete it entirely offline. Otherwise, students would hardly have clinical knowledge. Each semester a subject is taught. Can we prohibit the student from practicing only the subject because the student has not undergone clinical experience,” he asked, adding, “It’s about maintaining standards. We need guidance from the NMC.