Medical Schools operating in St Lucia have reportedly been placed in a difficult situation because of a new policy being enforced by the St Lucia Medical and Dental Council (SLMDC) requiring them to obtain accreditation.
Former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stephen King says some medical schools have been losing recognition by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and other international institutions as a result.
The SLMDC is the only medical council in the region that requires medical schools to obtain accreditation, Dr. King added.
“The issue of accreditation of St Lucian medical schools, the medical council has created that as a requirement, but this is the only medical council in the region that I’m aware of that has done that. Because of that many of the schools have lost the ability to be recognized by the ECFMG in the United States and in fact other international education bodies, Canadian and so on,” King stated.
There has been an increase in the number of offshore medical schools being established across the Caribbean in recent years, catering to international students.
Those schools are thought to generate significant revenue for local economies from the influx of students that must be accommodated and fed.
Dr King believes that accreditation of medical schools is important but he adds the government needs to determine whether the accreditation requirement enforced by the SLMDC should continue.
“The government needs to consider whether they want to keep that clause that the medical council has inserted, that to be licensed in St Lucia you must come from an accredited St Lucian medical school,” King said, “Because that clause is creating a lot of trouble for non-accredited St Lucians medical schools.”
Dr. King said most of the medical schools in St Lucia are in the process of being accredited.
He believes that the SLMDC should follow the policy of the Caribbean Association of Medical Councils (CAMC) and allow the Ministry of Education and CAAM-HP (Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions) to handle accreditation.