The National Medical Commission (NMC) released new regulations that allow non-teaching government hospitals to start postgraduate courses. The regulations state that existing or proposed non-teaching government hospitals can start postgraduate courses without having undergraduate courses, provided they fulfill minimum requirements as per the Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations (PGMER) 2023. These regulations were applied on December 28.
The rationale behind this decision is to increase the number of super specialists such as pediatricians, orthopedicians, radiologists, anesthetists, etc. These hospitals must meet minimum standard requirements, including beds, qualified faculty, patient volume, and adequate infrastructure. The detailed list of requirements will be released by the board soon.
The regulations also introduce three other changes to the existing guidelines. Medical colleges and institutions can now apply for permission to start postgraduate courses one year after initiating an undergraduate program. Earlier, the application for postgraduate courses was allowed only after admitting the third batch of MBBS students. However, the institutions must satisfy all the requirements for running the existing undergraduate course.
Secondly, the board has also decided to do away with new diploma courses. Instead, it encourages institutions to apply for two-year fellowship programs. Existing diploma courses shall continue to run, and alternatively, the institutions can convert the diploma courses into degree courses after meeting all the necessary requirements.
The NMC also decided to eliminate the difference between permitted and recognized seats. Henceforth, once the NMC grants permission for a course, all the seats will be recognized. Previously, the institutions were permitted to start with the courses, and their seats were recognized only after the graduation of the first batch.
The NMC also stated that the institutions need to declare their resources and infrastructure annually. The NMC will henceforth conduct inspections randomly upon receiving specific complaints.
The NMC further stated that violations of these new norms will lead to hefty penalties, and thus colleges and institutions should strictly adhere to these new regulations. Institutions that fail to meet the minimum standards or are found to be engaged in unfair practices could face a Rs. 1 crore fine. Similarly, individuals like the deans or head of department found guilty of misconduct or misreporting could attract a penalty of Rs. 5 lakhs.
The new NMC regulations thus aim to increase capacity and elevate the standard of medical education. The comprehensive guidelines released by the NMC will hopefully solidify the path of this transformative initiative.
(Inputs from various sources)
(Rehash/ Dr. Sushmita Ganguli)