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Singapore bets on medical training at home

The Singapore Medical Council has reduced its list of approved overseas medical schools from 160 to 103. The move will ensure the quality of overseas-trained doctors in the country remains high, it says.

Singapore's ageing population has been labelled a "time bomb", and the MOH is aiming to build a "strong local core" to meet its needs. Photo: pixabay

Four Chinese healthcare training providers remain on the list, while another four will be removed

The announcement comes around the same time as China reduced its approved English medium medical courses.

Taking into account the rankings and performance of universities’ conditionally registered doctors, the SMC’s recommendations have been approved by the country’s Ministry of Health and will become effective on January 1, 2020.

“We expect our need to recruit overseas-trained doctors to moderate and stabilise”

Students from Singapore who have already secured a place at one of the 57 institutions removed from the list, or who are studying at those schools before next year, will not be affected by the change, according to a statement.

The Ministry of Health says it has been growing its local healthcare training pipelines, and “building a strong local core to meet the healthcare needs of our ageing population”.

Three institutions in Singapore – 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 – have seen intakes rise from 300 in 2010 to around 500 in 2018, according to the Ministry.

“The impact of the increase in local medical school intake will be fully realised from 2023, when these students graduate. As such, we expect our need to recruit overseas-trained doctors to moderate and stabilise in the coming years,” the statement explains.

Four Chinese healthcare training providers remain on the list – Peking University Health Science Centre, Fudan University Shanghai Medical College, Tsinghua University Peking Union Medical College, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. Four others will be removed.

However, the Chinese Ministry of Education recently limited the number of its universities that can teach medical programs to 45, and three of the Singapore-approved courses are not allowed to train medical students in English.

Some stakeholders have suggested that the move by the Chinese Ministry will reduce the number of medical students hailing from India studying in China in the future.

“Schools not listed (in the list of 45 universities) shall not recruit undergraduate students majoring in clinical medicine (in English) to come to China, but only undergraduate students majoring in clinical medicine taught in Chinese,” China’s Ministry of Education statement reads.

“‘Bilingual Teaching’… to recruit foreign students in Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery is strictly prohibited,” it adds.

For other schools that have been removed from Singapore’s approved list of medical institutions, impact is not expect to be dramatic.

A spokesperson from the University of Iowa Health Care told The PIE News that the institution has very few foreign students.

“This change will not impact our medical student program,” they said. “We accept some foreign resident physicians, but very few from Singapore. This decision will not have a significant impact.”


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