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Fate of Pakistani medical graduates working in US hangs in balance

Though the PMDC had started the process, it was removed via a presidential ordinance and replaced by the PMC instead.

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Islamabad: Doctors who have graduated from Pakistani medical colleges may not be able to work in the United States (US) after January 2024 as the country has failed to meet the criteria of the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) the deadline for which is approaching fast, Dawn reported on Sunday.

The defunct Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) had applied for the WFME accreditation and also invited its delegation to visit Pakistan but in 2019, the PMDC was dissolved and Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) was established. Subsequently, the WFME visit was postponed.

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Pakistan has time till January 2024 to get accreditation from the WFME but the problem is that the current Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) Act at present does not meet the criteria to get recognition from the world body.

Meanwhile, the PMC has claimed that it had “formally initiated the application process for the recognition” and the entire process, including an on-site visit by the WFME, is expected to take 12 to 15 months, which is well within the time frame of Jan 2024.

According to a senior official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), around 25 percent of the doctors working in the US have foreign qualifications.

“US’s Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), after realizing that the quality of foreign graduates was deteriorating due to mushroom growth of private-for-profit colleges, on September 21, 2011, announced that after January 2023 graduates of only those countries having recognition from WFME will be allowed to appear in the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE),” the official said, adding that the deadline was later extended to January 2024 due to Covid-19.

Though the PMDC had started the process, it was removed via a presidential ordinance and replaced by the PMC instead.

The PMC started claiming itself to be a licensing body and the powers to inspect medical colleges were given to universities, which means that the PMC does not have control over medical education in the country.

In case of failure to take timely measures, Pakistan might miss the deadline, rendering graduates of Pakistani medical colleges unable to practice medicine in the US.

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