Recently, I read that the number of overseas medical schools recognised by Singapore was cut from 160 to 103 (Approved overseas medical schools list cut from 160 to 103, April 19).
The criteria adopted by the Singapore Medical Council were not clearly stated but a few factors, like local universities expanding places for medical students and maintaining the quality of doctors here, were mentioned.
International or national ranking of colleges and universities is heavily influenced by the postgraduate research of the institution and may not directly indicate the standard or quality of its undergraduates.
From my personal experience, interns or housemen from leading medical schools, such as Harvard, were not all manifestly better in their work than those from less well-known schools.
The ranking also depends considerably on the fame of the staff.
When I was a medical student in the United States, two professors in the teaching staff were Nobel Prize winners.
They were highly specialised and had practically no contact with undergraduates.
They each gave a lecture in the four years that did not benefit us very much except that we felt inspired.
In the US, state medical schools must also limit their intake to state residents.
For instance, the University of California Medical School in San Francisco used to take in 72 student per year, 70 of whom had to be state residents.
A foreign student would have had to compete for one of the two places with all out-of-state applicants.
I hope the Singapore Medical Council does not take the number of Singaporeans in a medical school as a criterion for recognition.
Ong Siew Chey (Dr)