Malaysia's Education - Common Licensing Exam for Medical Grads? My 2 Cents View

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Of late, several issues related to medical studies and training in Malaysia were highlighted and among them were the issue of quality of medical students, oversupply of doctors due to high number of medical schools around the country, government unable to provide housemanship post for at least 6 months to a year upon graduating and 1 out of 5 housemen are quitting their job before the 2-year compulsory housemanship.


Please click below links to read more pertaining to above issues :


1. Housemen Do Not Complete Training Stint For Various Reasons

2. Too Many Doctors, While English Standards Plummet 

3. New docs may have to wait a year for housemanship

4. Long Hours and Lack of Work-life Balance Prompt One Doc To Quit

5. From Doctors To Salesman


It was in 1995 when Malaysian Medical Council first made the proposal to the relevant authorities for implementation of common medical licensing examination for medical students and again in 2011 but the council has not received any approval from the authorities. It was believe the idea to introduce this highly demanding common licensing exam has not gone well with politicians and local public universities.


There were again suggestion to introduce the common entry exam in late 2013 (click the links here to read more  1. Be prepared for the MMLE, 2. The changing landscape of junior doctor jobs in Malaysia, 3. Licensing Exam For Docs? 4. Common Licensing Exam Foe Medical Grads) and again nothing concrete has been published and announced by the relevant authorities. Will this materialize this time around or Malaysian general public needs to wait another 20 years before it becomes a reality? 


The message is loud and clear that if the common licensing exam is benefit and good for the majority people, why procrastinate? Don't delay the implementation just to benefit the few. The majority of the people aspiration should be weigh thoroughly in order to put our health care in a better position and also to maximize the scarcity of resources in monitoring and training of quality medical students.    


Else where in most countries be it developed or developing countries, only persons with a medical license bestowed either by a specified government-approved professional association or a government agency are authorized to practice medicine. Licenses are not granted automatically to all people with medical degrees. A medical school graduate must receive a license to practice medicine before he or she can be called a physician in a legal sense, a process that usually entails testing or examinations by a medical board. The medical license is the documentation of authority to practice medicine within a certain locality. (Source : Wikipedia - Medical License)


By implementing Common Licensing exam, it makes a great sense to deal with the above key issues Malaysia is grappling with; 

1. Differences in the quality of graduates with some of them ill equipped to practise due to poor training and lack of skills, and

2. The difficulty Malaysian Medical Council has in ensuring that the 378 institutions recognised are still providing adequate medical programs suitable for Malaysia's need.


Majority people see the clear and obvious reasons why licensing exam is the way forward for Malaysia to battle the deterioration of the quality of our medical students. If not, tell me why most countries around the world had already put in place this highly demanding exam to ensure and maintain high quality of their health care sector.    


Let's review and focus on the pros of this common licensing exam:


1. Aspire students will think twice and deep before committing themselves to take up medical studies in view of extra cost and many levels of difficulty be it during the studies in medical school or after graduation where they need to climb the last hurdle before granting the license to practise.


2. This so called screening test will wipe out the low quality medical students and helps producing competent doctors where quality public health care should not be compromise at all. It is the only way forward to maintain the quality and standards of medical fields.


3. Resources to monitor 378 overseas  medical schools by Malaysian Medical Council is no longer an issue and this allows its members and staff to be more productive and focus on medical research and medical process improvements to further enhance our health care for the benefit of all.


4. In the eyes of Malaysian general public as well as foreigners who seek medical treatments in Malaysia, the screening test will enhance the confidence level of our health care as all doctors who practise in Malaysia had gone through this stringent test before granting the license to practise.


Some of the countries that put in place the common licensing exam are as follows:

1. US - United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)

2. UK - Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board test (PLAB)

3. Australia - Standard Pathway AMC Examinations

4. Canada - Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC)

5. India - Screening test conducted by The Medical council of India

6. China - National Medical Licensing Examination (NMLE)

7. Saudi Arabia - Saudi Licensing Exam (SLE)

8. South Africa - Health Professionals Council of South Africa Exam (HPCSA)

9. Taiwan - Taiwan National Medical Licensing Examination

10. Hong Kong - Licensing Examination of the Medical Council of Hong Kong


So there is no excuse at all why not follow world trend of medical health care by introducing the common licensing exam for the betterment of the whole nation?


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