National scholars not being sent to any particular school
June 21, 2013

National scholars not being sent to any particular school

The four national scholars who are enrolled at the locally-based Trinity School of Medicine are there by their own choosing.{{more}}

This point was made to SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week by chief personnel officer Kattian Barnwell and chair of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) Dr Rosalind Ambrose, in separate interviews, in response to a letter published in our Weekend edition of June 14.

Barnwell, who admitted to being perplexed as to what could have caused someone to write the letter, said “These are students who have chosen to be there…. We don’t force anyone to go to any particular institution at all”.

The letter, headlined “Are national scholars being sent to Trinity University School of Medicine?” asked if it is true that recent national scholars who opt to do medicine, are now being sent to the Trinity School of Medicine. The letter writer also asked how long has the medical school been in operation, what is its track record and if it is certified and by whom.

“It is a matter of their choice. They have to apply for admission; we don’t send them anywhere in particular,” Barnwell said in an interview on Monday.

She, however, said that the national awards are subject to Cabinet approval, as certain general conditions are applied to the programmes and institutions being considered by the scholars.

“For example, for those who choose to go outside of the University of the West Indies (UWI), generally, they are told if the programme is available at UWI, they will be paid the equivalent of the cost of the same or similar programme at UWI,” Barnwell explained.

“Those are the restrictions that we have, but there is nothing written or spoken that says that students must go to any particular institution.”

The chief personnel officer, however, said if a national scholar wishes to do a programme which is identified as a priority area for training and that programme not available at UWI, it is possible to get full funding to do the programme elsewhere.

She encouraged students who have that sort of concern to go to the Service Commissions Department to get the information.

Ambrose, in an email sent to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, said all national scholars go to the school of their choice, where they matriculate.

She said Trinity, which opened its doors at Ratho Mill, here in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2008, is recognized and registered here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and is undergoing the accreditation process.

Ambrose, who is a consultant radiologist, said Trinity is recognized by the NAB, as are All Saints University and American University, two other medical schools operating here.

“They all have the same status here. The recognition process itself has some ‘process’. It is not automatic. There are things they are required to do, documentation to be presented, and conditions to have in place to meet the criteria for recognition and registration,” she said.

The website of the Trinity School of Medicine said “in 2008, it was accredited to offer the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree and welcomed its inaugural class.”

Ambrose, however, said the word accreditation is used loosely, “even by those whom we think should know better”.

She explained that accreditation is a stepwise, time-bound process, which includes recognition and registration, evaluation, self-study/assessment, multiple reviews – including external assessments etc, therefore, “no institution is accredited the moment it hits the ground.

“But nearly every single one of the foreign medical schools (in particular) will use that word “accredited”, because if they don’t students will not apply to it,” the NAB chair said.

She, however, said Trinity’s claim is considered “acceptable language” and is not intended to mislead. She said the use of the term “accredited” is not unique to Trinity, it is “common-talk” which people understand.

Dr Ambrose said what the locally based medical schools do have is permission or acceptance, from the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates in the USA, to allow their students to write the American Board Exams – United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and the National Board of Medical Examination (NBME).

“Once they have been deemed eligible for that, they will promote themselves as being accredited – really meaning – it is possible to enter the USA Training Stream for residencies and fellowships etc, because that is what the general (global) populace understands it to be,” she explained.

The NAB chair disclosed that the first class of the Trinity School of Medicine, which included two Vincentians, graduated with a USMLE and NBME Pass Rate of 92 per cent and have all been employed in hospitals in the United States for residency training in the various clinical areas such as internal medicine, surgery and pediatrics.