Updated | Medical students 'shouldn't be concerned' over new school

The Malta Medical Students’ Association asks health minister for further clarifications on plans to open new medical school.

The Malta Medical Students' Association (MMSA) has expressed its concern over the health minister's announcement that the Barts Medical School is set to open in Malta.

MMSA today said that its members have voiced their concerns about the agreement reached between the Maltese Ministry of Health and the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) to open a new campus of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry in Malta.

"The main concern of medical students at this point is that the introduction of a new medical school on the Maltese islands may directly affect their daily learning experience which may already be compromised by the increasing number of students admitted to the medical course," the association said.

It added that this might in turn result in "less proficient doctors to care for the Maltese population."

But acting head of the post-graduate training centre Ray Galea said that with the introduction of a new a medical school, the general situation regarding the Malta Foundation Programme "should not be affected".

"There may be more applicants, but this is bound to happen anyway, with or without the new medical school," he said.

"There is no limit that can be imposed on the number of applicants since all eligible EU citizens have an equal right to apply."

The programme was set up in 2009. According to Galea, the scope of the programme has been reached: "It is providing excellent training to newly qualified doctors, making it unnecessary for them to leave our island."

The programme, he added, has met all the stringent criteria set up by the UK Foundation Programme (UKFPO), so much so that it has been accredited as a recognized Foundation Programme training centre for the next two years by the UKFPO.

"This is no mean feat considering that it is the only such Foundation Programme outside the UK," Galea said.

At present, besides the graduates from The University of Malta Medical School, the Malta Foundation Programme has built such a reputation that it gets an equivalent number of applications from other newly graduated doctors who would have qualified in other foreign medical schools.

All those applicants who, according to specific previously defined criteria, are found to be eligible are invited for an interview. The result and order of merit attained during this interview will determine who joins the Malta Foundation Programme.

Galea explained that all this process is done within the Public Service Commission regulations since the doctors chosen will be given a definite contract within the Public Service.

"This number, at present around 100, is dependent on the training capacity of the Malta Foundation Programme and the number of doctors Government plans to employ."

MMSA said that it is concerned on whether requirements to enter the two medical schools will be different to each other and if this would affect the current entry requirement of the UoM Medical School.

Earlier this week, health minister Godfrey Farrugia said Malta had the potential to become a hub in medical studies, adding that the agreement "will not only serve as an economic boost to the island but will also serve as an international brand for Malta in the medical field. This project will attract the best medical professionals."

The association called on Farrugia to provide further information about how this agreement will impact medical students reading for a Doctor of Medicine & Surgery at the University of Malta.

"We also ask whether there has been any form of formal impact assessment done before such an agreement was made. Is the current infrastructure of the health sector strong enough to support a new private medical school and will the final qualifications be any different from those obtained by the current medical students?"

In its statement, the association added that the Malta Medical School, which currently hosts about 650 medical students, recently added a Maltese proficiency test for all international students entering the course of Doctor of Medicine & Surgery in order to satisfy the needs of patients who feel more comfortable expressing themselves in Maltese.

"Will this be part of the requirements for international students to join the medical course in the new QMUL campus?" MMSA asked.

It also questioned whether there are enough Foundation Programme posts for newly graduated doctors in Malta.

The association said that in 2014, one hundred posts were offered to the class graduating this year, merely enough to provide a job for the hundreds of students set to graduate over the next few years. Around 190 students are set to graduate

in 2019 , and the association said that it is worried that a good proportion of these students will not be offered a job in Malta.

"Furthermore, will the introduction of a new medical school compromise further the possibility of these hard working medical students to get hold of a job within the Malta Foundation Programme?" MMSA concluded.


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Closed shop anyone??? If it's technical or labour unions, then "That's wrong, yakk!". If it's professionals "That's all-right then!" It quickly dawns on you just why our medical services overall situation is so compromised to the advantage of one particular group of stakeholders!
I just cannot understand their contention!
So when some years back such associations protested against what they termed the restriction of the number of students starting University courses, now we have an Association which is complaining about the fact that due to the number of students being admitted to the medical course "a good proportion of these students will not be offered a job in Malta." What is this Association suggesting , that the numerus clausus is reintroduced and the number of students admitted for University courses is in proportion to the number of jobs available?
Afraid of the competition? You want to continue with the numerus clausus? Get a life.