Raising the bar for medical courses

KUALA LUMPUR - The government is considering introducing stricter entry requirements for students wanting to pursue medical degrees in universities.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the Health and Education Ministries were studying measures to implement the new requirements.

He said another measure was to restrict new higher learning institutions from offering medical degree courses for five years.

The ban is effective from May 1, 2011 until April 30, 2016.

"We are aware of the concerns over the rising number of doctors entering the local market, with the number of doctors entering the service reaching 5,000 annually.

"Our ratio of doctor to population has reached 1:600," he said after attending the national-level Thaipusam celebrations at Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Batu Caves here yesterday.

He was responding to the concerns raised by the Malaysian Medical Association on the growing number of doctors who had "flooded the market".

Its president, Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan, had said on Thursday that there were too many doctors and medical institutions for a population of 27 million.

The then higher education minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin had said the freeze was based on several factors, including the marked increase in the number of medical graduates and the competency of housemen, teaching staff and teaching hospitals.

Dr Subramaniam said there was a possibility that the minimum requirement (to enrol into medical courses) might be increased from the present 4Bs eligibility based on the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination results.

"We might set the bar higher and even make this a mandatory requirement for those who opt to study overseas.

"This mechanism will be able to control and ensure that only the best qualified will be allowed to study medicine," he said.