Selection criteria for students of medical colleges should reflect needs of the country-Javed Akram

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 Admission criteria of selection of students for medical colleges

Selection criteria for students of
medical colleges should reflect
needs of the country- Javed Akram

Politicians do not trust doctors and they are not
prepared to give some authority to professionals

We need to identify best students for
admission-Prof. Shahid Mahmud Malik

From our correspondent

LAHORE: One of the important sessions during the recently concluded Second International Conference of Health Professions Education (ICHPE 2018) was on criteria for selection of students for medical and dental colleges. This session was chaired by Prof. Jack Boulet along with with Prof. Muhammad Tariq from AKU Karachi and Prof. Rahila Yasmeen. Dr. Mahwish Arooj was the moderator of this session.

Prof. Javed Akram Vice Chancellor of University of Health Sciences was the first speaker who opined that this issue has been too much politicized. Everybody who knows nothing and has nothing to do with it has something to say about it. We are being asked to implement certain decisions without our input. There are certain pressure groups. We need to create one best practice in selection of undergraduate medical students. These best practices are being implemented in various countries. We need to do situational analysis and the policy should reflect needs of the country. Some feel that academic performance should be the sole criteria. Open merit admission system also needs some research.


Continuing Prof. Javed Akram said that at present we have four doctors for one nurse though it should be one doctor with four nurses. We need more nursing schools than medical colleges but there is no money in nursing schools. Government has established medical universities without any appropriate funding. Establishment of medical colleges gets votes to the politicians but nursing schools will not. We need to do personality analysis, look at academic performance. Certain additional criteria’s are needed which will be most important. Merit can be violated politically. In UK there is 5% drop out from medical schools because of wrong selection. We need students who can undertake critical thinking, are good at problem solving and also have cognitive capabilities. He also talked about personality testing, Behavioural testing during the interview, inter personal skills, group work and those with all these qualities will give us the best doctors.

Speaking about the duration of pre-medical studies Prof. Javed Akram said that it is twelve years in UK, sixteen years in USA, twelve years in China and twelve years in Pakistan. During the recent entry test conducted by UHS, we have changed twenty nine parameters. Previous system was faulty. We asked the students that they can take the question papers with them as no question from that paper will be repeated. We are testing knowledge of the students. We had two hundred petitions, we listened to all the complaints and eventually decided to drop two questions which were a bit difficult. The students were given time to challenge and after that no one was allowed to create any problem. About 65,670 students appeared in the entry test which included 41,681 female students and 23,989 were male. Looking at the last year’s figures we noted that 20% male students were admitted while 80% admissions were of female students. Last year only 28% of the female doctors who qualified were working. The tuition fee in public sector colleges is Rs.6.5 Million and in private sector it is Rs. 9.5 Million. Most Women physicians do not work after graduation. We also conducted a study which showed that children of those women who work were more intelligent and better educated, brought up than those who do not work as it brings more money to the family. Unfortunately lady doctors are considered as the best product to get marry. Lady Doctors are also preferred as daughter-in-law. We have requested the families to allow their lady doctors to work and there are certain variables which must be looked at before marriage. He suggested that for selection the criteria should include educational score, aptitude, motivation, personality and local human resource requirements. They must be good human beings before becoming good doctors. It is difficult to change personality and behaviour. The students must have aptitude and personality for admission to medical school.


Maj. Gen. (Retd) Prof. Masood Anwar from Riphah University said that we need to find out as to who has the final authority to take a decision whether it is the PM&DC, medical universities or medical colleges, parents, students, hospitals or the teachers. He strongly advocated the cause of ethics, empathy, emotional stability, physical endurance among those who are selected for admission to medical colleges. At present we have 157 medical and dental colleges, most of them are in private sector. A total of 15,700 seats are available. Students should have sound academic background. Under the present circumstances only 13.5% will get admission in public sector. He was of the view that we might have to revise the 60% marks criteria for entry test. Aptitude and skills should be taken into consideration and it is not very easy. Faculty posts should be increased. We can have competitive national test for admission. Entry test criteria should be reviewed. Medical schools should then be free to admit students from that merit list.

Prof. Shahid Mahmud Malik from University of Lahore asked that under the present circumstances are we going to select good students. There are specific requirements for different disciplines like cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. We should be admitting different types of students. We must look at the potential of the students. In USA there is no universal admission criteria. We need to identify best students for admission. Medical schools should take best students and they can come from any background, he stated.

Prof. Lubna Baig Pro VC of Jinnah Sindh Medical University talked about reliability and validity of admission test and its feasibility. He laid emphasis on three principles of assessment which includes validity, reliability and feasibility. Multiple Mini Interviews depict better results. We need to review admission test. More research is needed on selection criteria. Infusion of other forms is a tall order.

Prof. Junaid Sarfraz from CMH Medical & Dental College Lahore opined that aptitude test should be allowed but decisions about this should not be taken by the government. He also referred to non-academic criteria for selection, extracurricular activities, sports, humanities and they will perform better than those selected on the basis of academic performance alone. They must be aware of ethical decision making, must have empathy, communication skills and must be good at team working. Self-directed learning is very important. However, it is extremely difficult to predict needs of the community. Need analysis is required for doctors. He was of the view that centralized admission policy will not work.


One of the student representatives Mahnoor Tahir Chaudhry also spoke about the challenges they were facing. She highlighted the lack of counselling and communication skills.

During the discussion the In-laws syndrome also came under discussion. It was emphasized that every female doctor should be allowed to work. They can choose a specialty where there are no night duties. Cuba, it was said, does not have the best system. Solution and options are available for the female doctors. It was also pointed out that the politicians do not trust the doctors and they are not prepared to give some authority to the professionals. In Pakistan according to reports there is 18% drop out in boys who get admission to medical colleges.

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