If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that everything changes with time. Recent changes to Canada laws will undeniably affect medical schools, and while some believe the reform could be for the better, there are others who are not so sure. Here’s what you need to know about Canadian medical schools and the upcoming changes.
Medical Licensing Examination Reform
All Canadian medical students who wish to practice as doctors in the country must take and pass the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination, or MCCEE. This exam is designed to test potential doctors’ competency and knowledge before they begin their residencies. For many years, the Medical Council of Canada (MCC), has allowed students to take the exam at any point during their last year of medical school. Recently, however, the MCC started allowing students to take the exam as early as 20 months before graduating, instead – and for an interesting reason.
Recently, the MCC introduced yet another examination, called the National Assessment Collaboration Objective Structured Clinical Exam, or NAC-OSCE, which is required for international medical graduates who are seeking licenses to practice medicine in Canada. This examination will be administered in September of each international student’s final year of medical school, and as a result, the MCC allows earlier administration of the MCCEE so the exams do not coincide.
The Good and the Bad
The MCC believes the NAC-OSCE examination is necessary to gauge the ability to international graduate students prior to providing licensure due in part to the different curriculum and medical standards in different countries. In theory, it is an excellent means of ensuring Canadian residents receive the same level of excellent medical care from every physician across the country, regardless of that doctor’s country of origin.
However, it is posing significant problems, particularly for Canadian students who are studying in Irish medical schools. To put it simply, students who received their medical schooling abroad, but who want to be licensed in Canada, are being asked to take the equivalent of a final-year exam nearly two years prior to graduation. What’s more, they are being asked to take this examination during their clinical rotations, which are exhausting and demanding as is. Even after all of these, students must still study for, take, and pass the NAC-OSCE to receive a license and start their residencies.
Fear for the Future
The Irish medical education system relies heavily on funding from Canadian students’ tuition, and without it, there is significant fear that the country’s ability to educate new doctors will crumble. Canadian medical students make up some 13% of all medical students in Ireland. Now that the students are being asked to take two grueling examinations – and one of them nearly two years before the end of their formal training – experts think Canadian medical students will simply strive to remain in Canada to avoid the NAC-OSCE altogether.
Though the idea of standardizing education for all Canadian doctors is one born out of good intentions, the way it is being implemented seems nothing short of impossible for international students. Things certainly will change, but it’s more likely that Irish medical schools will take the brunt of the negative effects. Only time will tell.