Frustrated doctor raises seeks alternative to CMSA exams

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A Free State doctor frustrated at twice failing Colleges of Medicine of SA exams is now looking for a foreign qualification alternative but cannot get clarity from the Health Council of SA whether it would be recognised.

Phume Peter Moletsane has given up appealing for his exam scripts to be remarked by the Colleges of Medicine of SA (CMSA), reports City Press. Moletsane (53), a GP in Kroonstad, Free State, says CMSA is also refusing him access to his exam scripts.
He is now considering enrolling with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, but is unsure if his foreign qualification would be recognised by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) because HPCSA was not forthcoming when in April he asked what his options were.

The report says the council has a contract with CMSA to administer exit exams for medical practitioners who want to be specialists. Successful completion of university administered research and CMSA exams are required for a specialist to register and practise in the country.

Moletsane wants to be a specialist in internal medicine and is studying at the University of the Free State. However, the report says, he has failed his CMSA exam twice – during the first semester in 2017 and again in the second semester last year. “I failed both exams and have been denied access to my scripts on both occasions. We sit for exams with no set pass mark. The pass mark is determined after marking,” he said.

The report says CMSA CEO Lize Hayes declined to comment on Moletsane’s matter, citing confidentiality. However, the report says, they were referred to a section in the medical care quality custodian’s policy, dated November last year, which allows appeals, but not reviews, and does not allow candidates to access their multiple-choice questions (MCQ) scripts. The policy was approved after HPCSA held a stakeholders’ meeting in October last year to discuss similar complaints pertaining to CMSA exams at its council chambers in Pretoria.

The report says Moletsane was among six medical practitioners whose complaints led to the meeting. At the same meeting, universities raised similar concerns regarding the CMSA exams. Hayes said, without making reference to Moletsane, that the recalculation of candidate exam papers was done after a formal request to do so. “MCQ papers cannot be reviewed and are not made available to candidates, in line with international trends. A good bank is essential to running a fair and defensible examination,” Hayes said.

The report says recommendations agreed on at the meeting were submitted to the HPCSA board for consideration. Some of the conclusions made by stakeholders were that the council failed its oversight role and its board was to consider reviewing the contract it had with CMSA because of lack of transparency in the administration of exams.

The report says Moletsane wrote to HPCSA CEO Dr Raymond Billa last month, asking whether there was an external body that was recognised by the council with which he could write his exams. “Having tried to get a fair and transparent exam from CMSA without any success, I wish to be informed as to which examining body you recognise outside South Africa. I will make arrangements to be examined there, with the expectation of being registered after passing,” Moletsane wrote.

Billa said he had not been able to obtain information on his request on a local student wishing to write the exams of a foreign body without having studied in that country. “The only consideration we make is for foreign-qualified practitioners after undergoing training in those countries and writing examinations in those countries, upon completion of their studies and training programmes. “I am not aware of the specific condition as you have raised it.”

The report says the HPCSA failed to respond to questions.

SA Medical Association board member Dr Eddie Ngwenya said medical registrars, who are represented by registrars’ organisations within his organisation, had also raised concerns relating to CMSA exam fees and assessment mechanisms, but these were being addressed with CMSA.

City Press report

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