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3,000 future doctors to pass examination of the US National Board of Medical Examiners – Ministry of Health

Kyiv, March 21, 2017.

The first three thousand students of Ukrainian medical schools will pass the test of the National Board of Medical Examiners (USA). The Agreement on intention of cooperation between the National Board of Medical Examiners, the Ministry of Health and the Testing Board of the Ministry of Health was signed March 21. “It is impossible to change the healthcare system without having changed the system of medical education. Doctors play crucial role in healthcare system, so the quality of medical education is probably the key factor that has an impact on all these changes. […] Our final aim is that a Ukrainian student had the same curriculum as the student of Yale University, that he would pass the same examination as Yale students and had the same scores.  The future cooperation between the Testing Center and the National Board of Medical Examiners will pave the way to this goal,” said Oleksandr Linchevskyi, Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

“I hope that adoption of this practice and examination procedure will contribute to more serious attitude to this examination and will prevent graduates with weak professional skills and questionable integrity from becoming practicing doctors,” noted Iryna Bulakh, director of the Testing Board of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. Analysis of students’ results will help to find weaknesses of the curriculum and improve it.

Common test as a tool to see real education quality: US experience 

The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) has already 102-year experience in the US. The aim of this examination is to assess not how well a student is moving forward in the academic program, but rather to see how well students are prepared in a medical school. “Having a common national examination that is high quality and built effectively gives very important information first about the level of competence and the level of skills that contribute to good patient outcomes. In any model where we wish to be continuously improving, where we want to make things better year over a year, where we want to raise standards, where aspiration is to always be improving the healthcare we provide to our people, the only way to know how you’re achieving it is to have measures like this, that allows to look across the continuum of education, across many medical schools and the regions of the country and understand from this information where we have work to do,” explained Donald Melnyk, honorary member of the NBME.

For instance, all 160 medical schools in the US should had met the same requirements to obtain accreditation, but students’ performance at the exam still differs: in some of them, almost every student passes the test, in the others almost 25 per cent of students failed the same exam.  In addition, there is an evident correlation between student’s results and his further success as a doctor. The research has shown that patients of a doctor whose score is 20 points higher than other doctor’s on average would have 4 per cent lower mortality from cardiovascular diseases.

How will it work in Ukraine?

Nearly three of six thousands of Ukrainian students are to pass the test this year. These are students who have been selected in every medical school within the representative sample. Nearly 100 students decided to pass the test voluntarily, the results of this group will be analyzed separately to see correlation between motivation and results.

The exam procedure will be the same as in the USA, however, test booklet will be printed. The booklets with 160 test tasks have already been translated into Ukrainian and soon will be delivered to Ukraine to the Testing Board. “The examination will take place in the same day and the same time for students of one specialty. As a director of the Testing Board, I promise, as well as medical schools presidents, that the examination will be transparent and fair,” noted Iryna Bulakh. The test for Ukrainian students will be held on May 12. The test in English for foreign students studying in Ukraine will be held separately as an e-test, the date is to be decided.

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