Given that it deals with people’s health, the healthcare system is the most delicate and crucial aspect of any nation. Every healthcare organization must hire only licensed, educated, and highly qualified medical professionals. People want to undergo professional treatment as they constantly worry about their health. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the credentials and expertise of medical professionals before hiring them.
Because of this, several nations have credentialing systems in place, and developing nations are also working to create these systems. Only licensed professionals are hired, and patients receive the finest care possible thanks to the credentialing procedure. Countries have different procedures for obtaining credentials. The majority of developed countries have robust credentialing processes, while developing countries are still in the process of improving theirs, making them more efficient.
This article will discuss the international variations in healthcare credentialing, compare medical qualification processes, and understand the requirements for cross-border licensing processes.
International Variations in Healthcare Credentialing
The guidelines and laws governing the credentialing procedure differ from one nation to the next. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia all have stringent credentials requirements. They have much more sophisticated regulatory structures and accreditation requirements than many other nations. The public will receive the best possible healthcare thanks to their policies. The following is a description of the many credentialing processes:
● Regulatory Bodies
Each nation has a regulatory organization in charge of regulating the certification of medical professionals. These regulatory bodies’ main objective is to ensure hospitals and medical professionals adhere to all applicable healthcare standards. Each medical professional must adhere to the norms and regulations set forth by these organizations to be qualified to practice medicine within the healthcare system.
The General Medical Council (GMC) in the United Kingdom, the Medical Board of California in the United States, and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in Australia are a few examples of these regulating agencies.
● Credentialing Criteria
Each nation’s regulatory organizations have specified specific requirements for credentials. The healthcare system, the regulatory environment, and several other variables, including the available resources, majorly impact these criteria.
Different educational requirements, years of experience, language skills, medical certifications, licenses, and job experience can all affect a country’s requirements for a medical practitioner’s credentials. For instance, some nations employ doctors with a medical degree and clinical expertise. In contrast, others demand that doctors have a medical graduating degree, have completed a training program, and have a track record of prior employment.
● Verification System
Their verification procedures account for a sizable portion of the global diversity in the credentialing process. While some nations use automated verification systems, others use human procedures. Each strategy has benefits and drawbacks of its own. Digital systems have the potential to introduce technical verification faults, while manual verification procedures could be subject to human error. In many nations, both sorts of verification procedures are effective.
● Clinical Skills Check
During the credentialing process, the clinical skills of medical practitioners are assessed, and each country has a different method for doing so. For instance, direct doctor interaction with the patient in the USA is frequently used to assess medical professionals’ clinical skills and abilities. However, in certain nations, evaluating training credentials is the main method used to evaluate clinical competence. Additionally, several countries conduct oral examinations and ask questions to check the clinical competence of medical professionals.
Comparing Medical Qualification Processes Globally
The medical qualification process varies from country to country depending on their health system transparency and credibility and many other factors. Each country has rules and regulations for medical practitioners to get the job.
The duration, organization, and curriculum of medical education differ amongst nations. In certain countries, you can join a medical degree program right after high school, but in others, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the length of medical programs varies greatly from country to country; some offer five-year programs, while others last seven years or longer.
● Residency Criteria
The duration of residency differs from country to country as some countries allow the medical practitioner to get the proper general medicine training and have shorter residency duration. On the other hand, some countries stress more on specialization with long residency periods. Residency is important to undergo the medical qualification process to get a job as a specialist in any field.
● Licensing Examination
Getting a license from the licensing boards is necessary for every medical practitioner before pursuing medical practice in every country. Still, the license examination criteria differ from one country to another.
The licensure test consists mostly of three components: written exams, practical exams, and the VIVA voice. Additionally, each country has its requirements and guidelines for these exams. Some countries rely heavily on practical exams. And in other countries, only the written exam and the oral VIVA are used. For instance, in the USA, the USMLE is a series of tests that begins with the Step 1 and Step 2 written exams before moving on to the Step 3 clinical exam to assess their clinical skills. The candidate will receive their license to practice medicine in the public or private sector after passing the USMLE exam.
● Continuity of Education
The Healthcare department is a continuously evolving field with the advent of new techniques and procedures of treatment. Therefore, medical practitioners must continue their education along with their medical practice. Some countries stress this status more as they consider continuing education as the main part of the credentialing process. While many countries show flexibility in this regard as they consider continuing education as necessary, it is not mandatory for medical practitioners to get continuous education. Medical practitioners can voluntarily continue their medical education.
Understanding Cross-Border Medical Licensing
Medical practitioners who want to practice medicine in other countries may face many challenges before getting a license. Each country has its own cultural, economic, and social aspects, and foreign medical practitioners must familiarize themselves with this system. Medical practitioners should be familiar with the local healthcare system and have language proficiency to practice medicine. Some are following things to get cross-border licenses.
A mutual agreement is signed between two countries, known as a reciprocity agreement, which allows the medical practitioners to practice medicine in partner countries holding the agreement without passing any long training assessments and examinations. This agreement has made cross-border licensing very convenient and short. A reciprocity agreement is signed after checking the partner country’s medical standards, like medical education, training, and practical examinations.
● Evaluation of Credentials
Medical practitioners who don’t come under the reciprocity agreement have to go through the evaluation of their medical education and clinical skills. Evaluation checks whether the medical practitioner’s education and practical skills are relevant to their local health system. If the medical practitioner meets all the requirements, then the regulatory authority issues the working license to the medical practitioner. This evaluation process is lengthy and hard, and medical practitioners must pass the licensure examination.
● Language Proficiency
Effective communication between patient and doctor is the first step towards treating the patient. Therefore, medical practitioners must be able to understand and speak the local language with the patients. Passing the local language test is important to get a practicing license in a foreign country. Medical practitioners must pass English language tests like OET, IELTS, or TOEFL for work in the USA and the UK.
Case Studies: Credentialing in Some Countries
Foreign medical practitioners must pass the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test. After passing the PLAB, they have to apply for registration with the General Medical Council (GMC). After getting the registration certificate, they can practice medicine in any healthcare institute.
The Credentialing process in the USA starts by getting registration with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). After getting the registration, medical practitioners have to pass the USMLE exam. They must also undergo residency training before getting a permanent medicine practicing license.
Passing the Australian Medical Council (AMC) test is mandatory for medical practitioners to complete the credentialing process. This test is conducted to evaluate the credibility of the doctors. They also have to pass the language proficiency test.
Credentialing starts with passing the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) exams and language proficiency tests. Medical practitioners also have to complete residency training. Canada focuses more on the knowledge of medical practitioners about their local health system. Therefore, it is recommended to get familiar information about their healthcare system.
Before hiring medical professionals, a credentialing process is required. Evaluating a doctor’s credibility and clinical abilities is the main goal of the credentialing procedure. Regulatory bodies, eligibility requirements, application procedures, and other aspects of this credentialing process differ from one country to the next.
Suppose we discuss the medical verification process globally. In that case, we observe differences in the length and content of medical education, residency and internship plans, and licensing exam requirements. Medical professionals must fulfill certain conditions, such as completing credibility evaluation exams like the USMLE or PLAB if they want to practice medicine abroad. Additionally, they need to be fluent in the local language of the desired country.