Every year, close to 1,500 students fly out of India to pursue a degree in medicine in 20 academies spread across Russia. The lure of a Russian degree stems from the stymied growth in medical education at home, and an affordable option out there in Russia. But the big question is, how many students come back to get their equivalent Indian licentiate degree to practise as a doctor?
Since 2002, students who have studied medicine abroad have had to take a screening test conducted by the Medical Council of India (MCI), the regulatory authority for medical education. Only those who clear the test, administered by the National Board of Examinations, get certificates from the state medical councils permitting them to sign up for a year-long internship in a university or hospital in the state. So far, the highest pass percentage has been 50%, in 2005. Pass percentages have varied from a dismal 9% in 2003 to 27% in 2011.
Do foreign medical graduates not make the cut? “Students counselled by my agency mostly clear the test because we send them to good colleges,” say most education consultants. “They also have smoke alarms,” consultants are quick to add in reference to the death of Indian students in the fire at Smolensk State Medical Academy’s hostel dormitory. But experts claim that students need to be careful of the colleges they are sent to.