The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on April 18 that it has revised the list of overseas medical schools for registration to practice in Singapore. MOH said that this was to meet the changing healthcare needs of Singaporeans, and to ensure that the quality of overseas-trained doctors practising in Singapore remains high.
The list of registered basic medical qualifications under the Medical Registration Act is reviewed from time to time, the announcement said.
The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) has reviewed the list, and proposed that the number of overseas medical schools with basic medical qualifications be reduced from 160 to 103, effective Jan 1 2020. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has accepted SMC’s recommendation.
The revised list of overseas medical schools that are registered with basic medical qualifications can be found at MOH’s website. SMC’s website has more information on the revised List of Registered Basic Medical Qualifications from these overseas medical schools.
MOH assured that Singapore Citizen and Singapore Permanent Resident students who have already secured a place as a candidate in a medical programme from a school that is no longer on the list, or who are studying in the affected schools before January 1, 2020, will not be affected by the change.
They will be considered for medical registration with SMC if they fulfill the prevailing requirements, subject to an offer of employment with an SMC-approved healthcare institution upon their graduation.
MOH said that in line with MOH’s Healthcare Manpower Plan to provide quality healthcare services for Singaporeans, it has been growing its local healthcare training pipelines and building a strong local core to meet the healthcare needs of our ageing population.
Total annual intakes into local medical schools have risen from about 300 in 2010 to about 500 in 2018 from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, Duke-NUS Medical School and the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at the Nanyang Technological University. The Duke-NUS Medical School was set up in 2005, while the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine was set up in 2013.
MOH said that the impact of the increase in local medical school intake will be fully realised from 2023, when these students graduate. As such, it expects Singapore’s need to recruit overseas-trained doctors to moderate and stabilise in the coming years.
The review of the list of registrable basic medical qualifications also took into consideration various factors including international and national rankings of these universities, as well as performance of conditionally registered doctors from these universities, to ensure that the quality of overseas-trained doctors practising in Singapore locally remains high.
SMC said that it will continue to review the list regularly based on the evolving needs of Singapore’s healthcare system while upholding high standards of medical practice.
A medical doctor who responded to the MOH’s announcement on their cut in overseas registered schools approved for practice in Singapore, asked what criteria led to removal of overseas medical schools. The doctor, Ong Siew Chey, writing to the Straits Times Forum page today, said “the criteria adopted by the Singapore Medical Council were not clearly stated,” except for a few factors.
Dr Ong said, MOH and SMC should not take the number of Singaporeans in a medical school as a criterion for recognition of overseas registered schools approved for practice in Singapore.
He said, “International or national ranking of colleges and universities is (sic) heavily influenced by the postgraduate research of the institution and may not directly indicate the standard or quality of its undergraduates.”
Adding: “From my personal experience, interns or housemen from leading medical schools, such as Harvard, were not all manifestly better in their work than those from less well-known schools. The ranking also depends considerably on the fame of the staff.”
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