With graduates from domestic medical schools recently complaining about the challenge they face from Taiwanese who graduated from medical schools abroad, Minister of the Department of Health Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) said the problem could only be resolved by revising the law.
Users of the Chinese-language Ptt Web site launched a debate earlier this year over a local hospital’s hiring of Taiwanese graduates from medical schools in Poland and the Philippines as resident doctors in its emergency ward and surgical department.
The postings said some Polish medical schools had low admission thresholds and had attracted an increasing number of Taiwanese students who were not admitted to local medical schools because they had failed to pass more thorough entrance examinations.
With a Polish medical degree, graduates are allowed to participate in Taiwan’s national examinations to acquire a general physician’s certification, which they can use to apply for a job in local medical institutions.
Ptt users complained that the foreign degree holders received NT$50,000 a month to work in surgical departments and that this “cheap labor force” posed a threat to physicians with local degrees.
Meanwhile, an anonymous physician serving at a hospital in central Taiwan recently sent a letter to Yeh’s online mailbox criticizing the system.
The letter said that under the regulations governing licensed physicians, foreign medical degree holders are entitled to participate in the national examination without having to pass a much more challenging screening of their academic performance by the Ministry of Education.
Having those physicians serve on the front lines could jeopardize the country’s medical system or even put patients at risk, the physician said.
In response to the complaint, Department of Health officials responsible for medical affairs said the law recognizes academic degrees from “developed countries and areas” including the US, Japan, the EU, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.
After Poland joined the EU in 2004, many Taiwanese pursuing a medical degree in the Philippines transferred to schools there, the officials said.
Although the department does not want to recognize the degrees and hopes holders would get practical training at local clinics and hospitals, as well as pass an academic screening before qualifying for the national physician certification examination, the decision cannot be carried out without amendments to the law, Yeh said.
The Web site touts itself as an open and free platform where students can exchange views and ideas in their fields.