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Ranked in top 50 in the FMGE licensing Exam in the Country
India's medical education system is the largest globally, with 535 medical schools producing 70,978 graduates. However, with career choice leaning more towards the medical profession, the system is creaking under the weight of heavy demand for medical seats every year.
Besides insufficient seats, the complexities of the quota system and costly private medical colleges have generated a large community of foreign medical graduates (FMG) – the 'poor cousin' who is fighting for acceptance by their country's medical fraternity on their return to practice.
The first challenge is the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE), conducted twice a year. For the record, as many as 19,122 students appeared for the Medical Council of India's screening test in 2020, and at least 3,722 candidates have cleared the exam.
So, among the tests to prove their capabilities is the FMGE. With a poor pass percentage record, the licensing exam to practice in India has come to, unfortunately, represent the quality of education provided in foreign medical universities.
However, a young medical graduate from Texila American University, Guyana, has passed the much-spoken Foreign Medical Graduate Exam, and what’s more, has been ranked among the top 50 in the country.
Now on an internship with PSG Hospital, Coimbatore, Dr. Pavithra Muruganandam shattered claims about the welcome foreign medical graduates receive when they return to their country.
“I was accepted immediately, and I never felt for a moment that I was an outsider.”
With foreign medical graduates derided for “not having been capable enough" to study medicine in India and for leaving the country to pursue their dream, graduates like Dr. Pavithra seem to be driving a change in the superficial perception.
"It's important to take the FMGE exam seriously to crack it," Dr. Pavithra says.
The young doctor, part of a team in charge of providing supportive treatment to post-Covid patients, says she started preparing for the FMGE two months before sitting for the exam.
“It is extremely important to start preparing for the exam much in advance. My preparation for the exam was rather intense, I would say, as I was running out of time.”
Dr. Pavithra read a lot and counted on the guidance of her college seniors to eventually crack the exam.
As part of a stringent quality control measure, the foreign medical graduate exam pattern changed in August 2020 to include more clinical questions.
“With FMGE oriented more towards clinical topics, the exam is tough, no doubt. But, adequate and methodical preparation will see anyone through,” she said.
There are three hundred questions to answer in five hours. Therefore, we have one minute for each question. It can be grueling, and speed is the key, Dr. Pavithra says.
About six-month preparation is adequate for the exam, she suggests.
The language barrier is the fear students harbor when they plan to study, especially medicine, in a foreign country with a non-English first language.
But I was lucky as Guyana is an English-speaking country. It is one of the biggest advantages I have had at Texila, she says.
“It was a highly motivating 5.5 years at Texila with an extremely helpful and qualified faculty and a multi-cultural student community," Dr. Pavithra said.
Small group teaching in the university benefits students quite a lot, says Dr. Pavithra.
“Guyana gave me remarkable clinical and pre-clinical exposure,” says Pavithra, who is keen to pursue internal medicine as her specialization.
For instance, we received regular engagement in activities like nasogastric tube insertion, Foley catheterization, intravenous catheter insertion, lumbar puncture ascites tapping, she said, adding, “we had numerous chances to assist in surgeries, deliveries.”
Dr. Pavithra says that studying in Guyana gave her ‘mediation’ opportunities.
Beyond diagnosis and treatment is the demonstration of empathy and sensitivity, called medical mediation, towards especially the caregivers, who are many times forced to make critical decisions for their loved ones. It can be as challenging as withdrawing treatment, especially in cases of prolonged illnesses.
“This was a rich learning experience that I had," Dr. Pavithra says.
Texila is a place that gave us equal opportunity to enjoy and focus, and discover our environment, says Dr. Pavithra.
Texila American University is recognized by various organizations, including the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOMS). You can learn more about this on the website. With TAU's MD program, you get the opportunity to pursue your clinical rotations in the US.