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Studying Medicine Abroad has become a common phenomenon in many developing countries. African Countries like Zimbabwe are no exception. With Africa considered to house the maximum youth population in the age group of 15 to 24, a spike in demand for higher education abroad is witnessed. A considerable number of Zimbabwe Medical Students study abroad and return home to practice and serve in the motherland.
The Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ) ‘s concern is that ‘many medical graduates fail to register with the council.’ Such negligence on Medical Students creates problems for MDPCZ to track and maintain the country’s quality of healthcare service.
Even though the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is used to certify International Medical Graduate (IMG) for having pursued Medical Studies outside the USA and Canada, MDPCZ in Zimbabwe has formulated guidelines for foreign medical graduates to get certified through an internal regulatory body to maintain quality standards.
MDPCZ in Nutshell
MDPCZ- Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe is a Governance Body created as per Section 29 of the Health Professions Act in Zimbabwe. The primary role of the MDPCZ is regulating the medicine and dentistry practice in Zimbabwe by facilitating and regulating all medical and dental practitioners of the country to do their duty by acquiring the necessary license to practice. Essential functions of MDPCZ identified are:
- Ensure good healthcare facilities are available in Zimbabwe.
- Regulate, Train and Supervise Medical and Dental Professionals.
- Provide Guidance to the Ministry of Health Affairs on developments in Medical and Dental topography.
- Issue practicing certificates to registered practitioners and cancel such certificates in terms of the act.
- Bring in ethical practices amongst practicing professionals.
Overview of ECFMG
As aforementioned, ECFMG stands for Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. ECFMG is a pioneer in ensuring quality healthcare worldwide. It encompasses active physicians, medical education members, regulatory community members, health care consumers, researchers, and health workforce planning members.
To be precise, all International Medical Graduates (IMG) are certified by ECFMG. So, it is a body that certifies global medical practitioners who can serve in any part of the globe.
ECFMG has a history of certifying IMG for more than six decades. Importantly ECFMG’s Electronic version called EPIC-Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials offers these services to individual physicians. It also provides medical education initiatives and a Non-Profit Foundation called FAIMER- Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research. Through these initiatives, it conducts leadership programs.
ECFMG offers expertise in the medical credentials given to doctors across the globe. ECFMG’s Library is a unique resource available on medical education credentials. It captures interactions from 2,400 medical schools in more than 180 countries and contains samples of authentic, verified credentials. It acts as a multi-step primary source verifying method and is renowned for a rigorous process of authentication.
Significance of EPIC
As aforementioned, EPIC-Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials provides primary-source-based verification of medical practitioners and organizations’ medical credentials across the globe. It helps verify the education, training, registration, license, and other physician credentials. The primary source used by EPIC is the same as that employed by ECFMG.
Increasing ‘Study Medicine Abroad’ Trend
According to MDPCZ, a significant chunk of medical students from Zimbabwe are pursuing their studies abroad. Interestingly Research shows by 2030, the African countries to house 1 out of every 4 people in the age group of 15-24 years. This has made African countries like Zimbabwe having the highest college-going population. This has naturally triggered a spike in demand for studying abroad.
Importantly a considerable population of Zimbabwean students is studying Medicine and Dentistry in foreign countries. According to the same source, African students going abroad for higher studies have jumped from 296,395 in 2012 to 374,425 in 2017, a whopping 26% increase.
Study shows in the African region, three out of four students express aspirations to pursue study abroad. This is common in all fields, inclusive of Medicine and Dentistry. A 29% of respondents accept that studying abroad helps to propel their career growth.
In this context of a considerable population of youngsters opting to study abroad, MDPCZ faces a new challenge of ensuring all medical graduates returning home register before they start practicing. As part of this initiative, a rationale for registration is identified.
The Rationale for MDPCZ Registration
The MDPCZ has put in systematic efforts to ensure Zimbabwe’s healthcare is of the highest quality.
- The first and foremost focus is to regulate Medicine and Dentistry practice in the country by maintaining a database of every qualified doctor and dentist in the nation.
- Ensure every practitioner is given a license to practice.
- Anticipate in advanced situations like prospective graduates from poor or unrated medical schools and equip them with necessary skills before they begin to practice.
- Facilitate students to involve in elective training during their vacation period stay in Zimbabwe.
- Elective training will also enable the students and practitioners to get familiar with local practices.
- Most importantly, safeguard the nation’s interests by providing them healthcare services from competent and trained practitioners.
Step-By-Step Guide for Registration Process
In Zimbabwe, ECFMG and MDPCZ have collaborated to build a robust registration process for Medicine and Dentistry practitioners. As part of this collaboration, the Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC) is used. This Technology Enablement has put a transparent process in place. This blog post brings the steps to be followed by Medical Students to register themselves with the country’s regulatory council.
- As the first step, students should verify if the degree awarding institute/university is listed in the world directory of medical schools.
- Also, get confirmation on whether a sponsor note indicating institute eligibility for ECFMG certification is available.
- Students having graduated from USA or Canadian university/institute need not produce ECFMG eligibility. World directory listing is sufficient for those students.
- Create an EPIC Account by using the online application. During this process, students should provide basic details such as:
- a photograph (Colored)
- a scanned copy of unexpired passport
- Medical education details like an institute of study, Institute identification number, attendance details, and degree issuance date
- Medical licensure information (if applicable)
- ECFMG/USMLE Identification Number
- ECFMG International Credentials Services (EICS) Identification Number.
- Upon successfully applying, Students will receive login credentials via email to access the EPIC account.
- Students should confirm their identity with EPIC by submitting EPIC Identification Form.
- Students should upload all the documents required by MDPCZ and select the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe and procure EPIC verification reports. Following are the credentials needed for MDPCZ verification:
- Final Medical Degree
- Final Medical School Transcript
- Postgraduate Medical Education Credential
- Specialization Qualification
- Medical Registration Certificates and License for Practicing
- Upon successfully verifying your credentials, you can submit your application for the MDPCZ examination to the MDPCZ. To do so, you will have to navigate to the “My Reports” section of your EPIC account and raise a request to send all your verification reports to the MDPCZ.
MDPCZ in Zimbabwe has accepted the challenge of building a competent healthcare system by regulating the medical and dentistry practitioners practicing in the country by issuing them licenses through well-governed bodies, EPIC and ECFMG. Moreover, Elective training will help the students and practitioners to get acclimatized with local practices.
Through the registration process, MDPCZ and Zimbabwe Govt. authorities feel the country’s medical care system gains facelift and respect in the international community. Most importantly, the country’s public will be blessed with one of the best healthcare services. This post attempts to answer various queries medical students and dentists have concerning the registration process initiated by MDPCZ to regulate the medical care system in Zimbabwe.
In a nutshell, ECFMG, EPIC and, MDPCZ working in tandem assures an effective and efficient registration process of Medical Students and Dentists in Zimbabwe.