THIS letter is in response to the letter undermining the quality of the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) programme at DWU published in The National on June 30.
The claim that the medical programme at DWU should not use the title MBBS is based on ignorance or intentionally ignoring the basic facts that undergraduate medical programme is offered all over the world in many medical schools as MBBS.
The new medical programme, MBBS at DWU was approved both by the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology and the Department of Health as satisfying the criteria both for high-degree and for medical programme and the medical school was registered in the international registry.
Then, the MBBS programme at DWU was reviewed twice by the Medical Board and the graduates approved as adequately prepared to undertake work in PNG hospitals as resident medical officers.
Obviously, the author of the letter did not take any effort to explore the facts on the rigorous recruitment process of candidates for the MBBS at DWU.
The facts are as follows: we admit 30 school leavers using the DHERST electronic selection system with the best grade-12 grades and the best results in the national exams at the minimum GPA of 3.5.
For instance, last year out of about 300 applicants, we enrolled 30.
We also enrol 15 best candidates from the non-school leavers pool competing in a tough entry exam encompassing questions from Language and Literature, Mathematics A, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Last year we had 268 non-school leavers competing in the entry exam for 15 seats.
Similar to UPNG, the first year is the basic science foundation with tough exams selecting the best students to continue, where in average attrition is at 25 per cent.
That is why our MBBS programme is five-year programme, because the first year is an equivalent of basic science foundation.
After two years of basic and premedical sciences, we have the Comprehensive Basic Science Exam equivalent of USMLE, a USA Exam, run in many medical schools to make sure that students entering clinical units are well prepared.
Our Medical School has a well-developed simulation centre and anatomy lab equipped with state-of-art equipment.
For instance, we acquired the digital cadaver to facilitate anatomy learning, numerous manikins and trainers are utilised for students learning to acquire basic clinical skills in a safe simulated environment before they put hands-on real patients.
Simulation training has been adopted by almost all medical school worldwide.
Simulation training is adopted by many fields, for instance in training pilots who first get training on simulators before they are entrusted to carry people safely.
We have also developed pathology, chemical and microbiology laboratories where students have hands-on experience in learning sciences.
Regarding clinical training, we have signed agreements with four PHA and number of rural hospitals to conduct clinical training.
In three large hospitals in Madang, Lae and Kundiawa our students receive basic clinical training under the supervision of national specialists.
In addition, our students have clinical placement in the rural hospitals where they are supervised by rural doctors.
They get familiar with health needs of neglected rural population and refine their clinical skills.
Working towards benchmarking our program to international standards, the Department of Medicine developed collaboration with five international medical schools.
We run number of developmental project of staff and students exchange and one of our student was selected to do one clinical semester at Poznan University Medical School(PUMS) in Poland along the ERASMUS+ project.
She achieved the highest possible marks from 4 clinical units.
Our programme is recognised in the region and our staff took part in the review of medical programmes (MBBS) in Fiji and Samoa.
Our continuous effort for quality improvement include among many, actions such as, comprehensive review of the MBBS programme with external partner, James Cook University (JCU) Medical School based on a wide data collection from stakeholders (2022), inviting national and international visiting lecturers, employing external examiners for the last year clinical exams and continuous staff professional development.
For instance, last year our staff took part in the developmental workshops run by Leeds Medical School and Monash University, this year, two staff workshops run by PUMS and JCU Medical Schools.
Three batches of the MBBS graduates are already working in PNG hospitals, ten of them at PMGH, some doing residency, some already completed and they were generally assessed by clinical supervisors as 70 per cent above average in terms of work readiness.
Thus, one can see that whether the programme deserve the MBBS name or not is not a matter of subjective or baseless individual opinion but the result of committed work of the faculty staff and cross-checking of standards by the national statutory and accreditation bodies.
To publicly undermine the genuine efforts of DWU to produce quality doctors for PNG by producing imaginary instead of factual points, is indeed doing more harm than good to the people of PNG who then lose trust in the medical profession and the health system.
Professor Jerzy Kuzma
Head of Department of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Divine Word University
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