The government-run PM&DC confirmed on February 10 in a press release that medical graduates are no longer required to take the National Licensing Examination (NLE). “
The federal government has cancelled the national licencing exam that medical graduates had to take in order to legally practise in Pakistan according to social media users and media reports.
The assertion is true. “On February 12, the federal government abolished the mandatory licencing exam for medical graduates,” a Twitter account wrote. “Every student will now receive a licence automatically upon graduation.”
The government-run Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PM&DC) confirmed on February 10 in a press release that medical graduates are no longer required to take the National Licensing Examination (NLE). ”
As promised by Federal Health Minister, the PM&DC began issuing permanent registration certificates to doctors who graduated from Pakistan medical and dental colleges without the requirement of the National Licensing Examination on February 8,” according to the statement.
According to the PM&DC, this has been a long-standing request of the medical community. However, according to the press release, students who have completed their undergraduate degrees at foreign universities will still be required to take the National Registration Examination.
Hina Shaukat, the PM&DC’s chief public relations officer, told Geo Fact Check over the phone that this was already the practise [prior to 2020].
“Before they [the students] were registered, they were carefully selected and checked. They didn’t have to take the NLE exams back then because they came from colleges that were already recognised,” she explained.”
The PM&DC was then replaced by the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) in September 2020 by an act of parliament passed by the then-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
Under the new law, the exam was made mandatory for Pakistani medical students to obtain a licence. “Students were protesting against the NLE test,” Shaukat explained, “because they said we already have to sit through a number of comprehensive tests like the Medical & Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) before graduating.”
Dr. Faisal Sultan, who served as the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for Health in 2020, defended the decision to implement the NLE.
“It is critical that new graduates be able to demonstrate a uniform level of capability and skill in a country with well over 100 medical colleges in half a dozen provinces/territories,” he wrote on WhatsApp.
“This can be accomplished by a uniform national licencing exam that is done in a reliable and reproducible manner,” he continued.
“Not only does this provide confidence that the individual about to be licenced is a safe doctor, but it is also a very sensitive method to judge the academic standards of the colleges.” The doctor went on to say that the exam was given at the end of five years to inspect the educational standards of medical schools.
“There have frequently been colleges with a wide range of quality among them,” Sultan continued, “and the consumer deserves to be reassured of a minimum level of competence.”
Sultan also said that even advanced countries, with good universities, like the United Kingdom or the United States of America, often require a national or single exam for licensing.