Medical graduates disapprove National Licensing Exam, demand PMC to at least relax criteria

ISLAMABAD – Medical graduates from public and private medical colleges disapproving the National Licensing Exam (NLE) on Friday demanded from Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) to at least relax the criteria.

The PMC has made compulsory for all medical graduates a newly introduced NLE before they start medical practice. The medical education regulatory body has set 70% marks as qualifying criteria for the NLE.

However, medical graduates viewed the conduct of NLE as an unjust decision by the PMC arguing that all students from public and private sector medical colleges are sufficiently qualified after tough academic studies during academic years.

Students also said that instead of improving the quality of education in the medical colleges, the PMC has announced NLE which will only benefit academies when students will rush there for preparations of the exam.

A medical student from Federal Medical and Dental College Dr. Zubair Ahmed said that a medical graduate spends five years in college, but still the PMC has no trust in its doctor.

“It shows PMC has low confidence in its education system,” said Dr. Zubair.

He viewed that NLE with such strict criteria has no rationale and PMC must revise its decision.

Another medical graduate Dr. Eman Ali from Islamabad Medical and Dental College said that due to COVID-19, the medical students were deprived from the practical classes and online education mode was adopted to teach students.

She said that in this situation, PMC has set 70% passing criteria for PMC which is unjust and if PMC does not revoke it, it must reduce the passing criteria.

“If such discouraging criteria remain intact, the country will be facing a shortage of healthcare workers,” she said.

Dr. Usman Waleed from Rawalpindi Medical College said that NLE will be an extra burden on medical graduates and house officers.

He said that if the PMC is not confident in the quality of medical education in the country, it must take strict measures in the educational institutions and upgrade their standards instead of shifting the burden on students.

He said that the NLE with such strict criteria will open the doors for academies that will start classes and students will have to pay more for preparations for the NLE exam. 

“If PMC wants to raise the medical education standards, it must invest in intuition instead of introducing NLE,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the PMC in a statement issued had said that the PMC council unanimously approved the structure and syllabus for NLE as formulated and recommended by the Academic Board.

It said that the NLE, as per the Board recommendations approved by the Council in 2021-2022, consists of two exams with the first being a MCQ-based theory component and the second a Clinical Skills Exam.

The statement said that the MCQ based theory component of Step 1 of the NLE will also be a computer-based examination to be conducted at multiple centers across Pakistan multiple times a year, with no bar on the number of times a candidate can attempt the examination.

It also said that the result of NLE Step 1 will be valid for 5 years, enabling a student to attempt and qualify the Step 2 exam during this 5-year period. The Step 2 or skills exam will be taken through physical examiners during 2021-2022 while PMC has initiated development of a 3D exam system for Step 2.

“The qualifying marks for the NLE will be 70% for both Step 1 and Step 2,” said the statement.

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