PMC & NLE: Has merit shown the door?

By Dr Sumaiya Hassan

The recent dissolution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and transfer of authority to the Pakistan medical Council (PMC) has stimulated the dental community of the country in terms of the examinations.


The National Licensing Exam (NLE), which according to the subsection 2 of section 21 of the PMC is mandatory for all the graduates of Medicine and Dentistry, has stirred the fresh graduates of the respective fields. While it may seem the solution to judge the merit level of graduates through a single platform, it has another side too which may make it an unfavourable option due to the fact that it may shift the focus of students from the achievement of academic and professional excellence to merely clearing the NLE exam. Nevertheless, if the exam is conducted with transparency and consistency, it may positively impact the system. Although only time will reveal if this is possible, the NLE exam must not be a cover-up for the deficiencies of medical and dental colleges in terms of education.

NLE is not the only element of PMC which has enraged the medical and dental community. According to the Admission Regulations of the PMC, there will be no restriction as to the domicile of the student for purposes of admission to private medical or dental colleges. This may lead to admissions getting difficult for students of certain provinces in their own province due to the growing central competition.

Where does merit stand?

It is unfortunate that the national education system has mostly been a victim of corruption. Healthcare education is no different in this regard. While the takeover of authority by the PMC may be justified (by those in favour of it) to have a positive influence on the deteriorating medical education system of the country, its outcome will be a by-product of multiple factors and if driven to the positive side, it may help produce better healthcare professionals in the country who can also compete internationally. To some extent, the new policies may also reduce the dropout rate of the students from the medical and dental colleges before graduation and also a provision of the admission seats to the deserving candidates.

The author is contributing writer at Dental News Pakistan and can be reached at

October 16, 2020

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