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Educ Health (Abingdon). 2016 Jan-Apr;29(1):42-6. doi: 10.4103/1357-6283.178932.

India's foreign medical graduates: an opportunity to correct India's physician shortage.

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Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India.



India's current estimated doctor-population ratio of 1:1700 against targeted ratio of 1: 1000 shows a clear shortage. A mismatch in number of medical aspirants and available seats, intense competition and unaffordable costs of medical education prompt many Indian students to pursue training opportunities abroad. Many later return to India, and these foreign medical graduates (FMGs) must pass a qualification test which is a required to practice medicine in India. This review undertakes a situational analysis of FMGs in India and suggests a roadmap to better utilize this resource pool of physicians.


A thorough literature search was carried out using Google Scholar, PubMed and websites of the Central Board of Secondary Education and Medical Council of India. Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) data was obtained from India's National Board of Examinations.


From 2002 to 2014, growth was seen in the number of FMGs who took the FMGE, with more having trained in China than any other country. However, typically only 25% of FMGs pass the FMGE. In 2013, 9,700 FMGs were unable to pass the FMGE to enter practice in India. At least 7,500 FMG physicians are unable to become licensed each year for failure to pass the FMGE, including those who retake and again fail the exam.


There are possible solutions. Additional training and hands-on apprenticeships can be introduced to help FMGs build their skills to then be able to pass the FMGE. FMGs can now learn by participating as observers in the established programs. Opportunities also exist for FMGs to work outside of clinical care, including in research, hospital administration and public health. As of now, FMGs are an untapped resource and lost opportunity to a country with shortages of physicians.

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