Combined Medical Services Examination (CMS)

A democratic government or a government organization is liable to provide medical facilities to its employees and the general population. Therefore, they hire qualified health professionals to work for them. As we all know, many doctors work as medical officers for government departments. But how are they hired? Getting a top-level government job is never easy. And there comes the role of UPSC CMS (Combined Medical Services) exam. 

What is UPSC CMS exam

UPSC Combined Medical Services (CMS) examination is a national level entrance test conducted by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit medical professionals for various departments or organizations functioning under the government of India. The exam is conducted in accordance with the guidelines provided by the ministry of health and family welfare. This is one of the most prestigious government examinations and like IES or IAS exams, the candidates who join the government medical force through UPSC CMS exam start with group ‘A’ gazetted officer status. The exam is conducted every year and the organizations that hire qualified candidates include Indian Railways, Indian Ordnance Factories, Municipal corporations, etc. 

Who should try this?

To most people, getting a highly ranked government post is a dream. Job stability, work-life balance, good pay, reputation, then why not? But it’s not the case with medical students. Though those who get into government medical services get paid well and enjoy all the benefits I mentioned earlier, they can easily get that outside as well. Sometimes, much more. As a matter of fact, the money doctors can make working in corporate hospitals is much more than what they earn as a government medical professional. So, let me tell you that it’s not something doctors who are interested in making ‘so much’ money should go for. Master your trade, join a corporate hospital, charge lakhs for each minute. 

But if you are happy with enough money, a good work-life balance, and the stability of a government job, UPSC CMS exam is a route I would recommend. You will get to serve people without bothering much about money. And unlike in a private hospital, you will have comparatively less stress. Job security, regular perks, and promotions are also part of the game. 

Eligibility criteria

As I already mentioned, this is an exam to recruit medical professionals. So, not everyone can apply for the UPSC CMS exam. The minimum educational requirement to enroll for this exam is to have an MBBS degree. Both MBBS graduates and MBBS students who are in the final year can apply for the exam. Though completing the compulsory rotating internship is not a must to attempt the exam, you will have to do it to start working as a government health professional if you clear the exam. 

Now, there is an upper age limit. Only candidates whose age is below thirty-two can attempt the UPSC CMS exam. So, if you are someone who took too many years to complete your MBBS program, I’ve to inform you with a heavy heart that your chance is over. But the upper age limit is relaxable for a few categories. 

And then there are nationality requirements. That’s pretty much common for almost all UPSC exams. Let’s skip that part.

How to apply

If all the above-mentioned requirements are met, you can attempt the UPSC CMS exam. The exam is conducted once every year by the Union Public Service Commission of India. UPSC publishes vacancy notification, usually during the month of April, inviting applications from candidates who wish to take up the positions. Once the notification is out, you can apply for the exam on UPSC website. Be careful while filling the details as UPSC does not allow you to edit the application once it’s approved. Along with it, you will have to pay an examination fee of Rs 200. This can be done using both offline and online methods. Visit the UPSC website for detailed information. 

Exam details

Now, let’s get to the details of the exam. I apologize for making you wait. UPSC CMS exam is the gateway through which MBBS graduates can join the government workforce as group ‘A’ gazetted officers.  That’s no doddle. The test is meant to test an individual’s subject matter expertise and his or her personal aptitude. UPSC CMS exam has two parts. Namely, a computer-based test and a personality test. 

The computer-based test consists of two papers. Each paper of the objective examination is for 250 marks. The allotted time for each paper is two hours. The first paper has 118 questions. It covers general medicine and includes  Cardiology, Neurology, Dermatology and Psychiatry and pediatrics. The second paper has three sections with each section having 40 questions. ENT, Ophthalmology, Traumatology, and Orthopaedics, etc are covered in the first section. The second section covers gynecology and obstetrics while the third section covers preventive and social medicine. That’s all about the first part of the UPSC CMS exam.

As I mentioned earlier, the second part is a personality test. Only the candidates who cross the cut off marks for the first part are invited for the second part. This part is for 100 marks. You will be appearing in an interview panel consisting of IAS officers and medical officers. You will be asked questions that will test your personality and general knowledge. And if you are able to impress the panel, you will join the force of medical government professionals in various positions.


How tough is it? That’s a common question which pops out inside everyone’s mind when it comes to attempting exams. The same happens with UPSC CMS exams. Let me give you a few statistics that can help you. When it comes to the UPSC CMS exam, the number of candidates recruited depends on the number of vacancies available. In 2019, UPSC notified 919 vacancies and more than 3 lakhs applications were received. But when the results were out, only 798 candidates got shortlisted. That tells a lot about how tough it is to get in, right?

Scope after CMS exam

Once shortlisted, a candidate joins the health professionals who work for the government. There are multiple job roles available in different government organizations and departments. The recruitments are based on the available vacancies. Most candidates who join the workforce through UPSC CMS exams start as assistant medical officers. The post available in the list of vacancy notification posted by last year includes Assistant Divisional Medical Officer in the Railways, Assistant Medical Officer in Indian Ordnance Factories Health Services, Junior Scale Posts in Central Health Services, General Duty Medical Officer in New Delhi Municipal Council, General Duty Medical Grade-II, etc.


Health professionals work under different job roles and under different departments. So, not everyone who gets appointed in a government after clearing the UPSC CMS exam gets paid the same. This can depend on your position, the department you work for, etc. The average salary you can expect after taking this route is around Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000. I know this is very low when compared to what private hospitals pay doctors. But regular perks and promotions are almost a guarantee as long as you are good at what to do. 

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UPSC CMS (combined medical services) Exam is a national level competitive exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission to hire health professionals for various government organisations. MBBS graduates who join the government services with group A gazetted officer rank can take up this route. Though the money you earn as a health professional for the government won’t be as much as what you earn in a corporate hospital, you will enjoy benefits of better work-life balance and job security along with a decent pay. 

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