Extra exams should lure more non-local doctors
The Medical Council will double the number of licensing exams it holds each year to cope with the rise in non-local medical graduates wanting to gain Hong Kong qualifications.
The number of non-locals sitting the Hong Kong licensing examination has risen from 168 in 2010 to 283 this year.
But only about 10 per cent of those taking the assessment passed, with just 23 gaining licences last year.
Council chairman professor Joseph Lau Wan-yee said he hoped that increasing the assessments from once a year to twice a year meant more people could sit the exam, and that in turn would attract more medical graduates to work in Hong Kong.
"Public hospitals never have enough doctors," he said.
"The admission quota of the two medical schools has increased, but it will take quite a few years for them to complete their training.
"Increasing the capacity of these exams is a faster way of boosting the supply of doctors."
The council had been looking at various ways of attracting more candidates, such as waiving certain parts of the examination for those who had relevant experience or qualifications.
The examination has three parts: a written test, a medical English assessment and clinical assessments.
Extensive discussions between the council, the public hospitals and the two medical schools finally resulted in increasing resources for clinical assessments so they could be held twice a year.
Lau said the major obstacle in increasing the number of doctors taking the exam was in finding patients for the paediatric clinical segment of the assessment.
Parents were often reluctant to allow their children to serve as volunteers.
He said the assessments were not too tough - as their standards were in line with those of the two local medical schools - but the challenging part was that candidates were assessed on everything they had learned over five years of study.
"Those who are fresh graduates tend to have a higher pass rate than those who left medical school a long time ago as they have sometimes forgotten what they have learned," Lau said.
"We have been seeing younger candidates."
More than 70 per cent of the candidates in the past two years were permanent Hong Kong residents who received medical training on the mainland or overseas and would like to return to the city to practise.
Their pass rates were 20 to 30 per cent.
Lau encouraged more of these people to come to the city, as they usually spoke Cantonese, and might also be more familiar with Hong Kong's medical system and culture.