Occupational licensing regulations have constantly been anissue for many countries and various distinctive markets.
In particular, themarket for professionals and occupations that require a certain threshold oftechnical expertise have been the centre of the issue. These professionsusually tend to be those that require an extensive amount and time of studyingand training. The predominant reason for the extensive and comprehensivetraining for these professions is that they are naturally predisposed to provideservices that require extreme prudence, scrutiny, and perfection. Especially,for medical professions, such thresholds are the core requirements as well asthe central values of their profession as they shall be dealing with severelydelicate issues that may even decide the fate of a patient. Taking thesematters into account, one can surely tout that doctors and medical professionsdeserve the most preferable treatment possible amongst different professionsand experts. Nonetheless, we must never misplace the reverence for thesestudious people with the endowment of overwhelming power to control themarketplace.
Thus, occupational licensing for doctors in any nation must beclosely observed to make a balanced regulation that truly looks out for the welfareand health of the people as the Hippocratic Oath reads, “Iwill prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability andmy judgment and never do harm to anyone.” Inconventional Korea, there was only a single route for students aspiring tobecome doctors to achieve the license to practise medicine; they practicallyhad to be amongst the top 1% of the national college entrance exams in order toqualify. Once a student was able to gain admission to the collegeof medicine, he or she would then go through a 2 year course of pre-medicinalstudies (that require basicand fundamental studies in the fields of chemistry, biology, organic chemistry,biochemistry, and the likes) and then move on to the actual clinical practisesfor another 4 years. Ultimately, after enduring the 6 year course of studies,the students were given the opportunity to sit for the Korean Medical LicensingExam (KMLE) by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (as well as the Ministry ofEducation). This fabled medical exam comprises of assessments on thestudents’ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and principles, andto determine fundamental patient-centred skills that are important in healthand disease and that constitute the basis of safe and effective patient care.Generally speaking, the medical licensing examination committees are composedof medical educators and clinicians of Korea. Once the students pass the test,they are endowed with the actual license to practise medicine and formallyrefer to themselves as medical doctors (MDs).
Although the actual KMLE isdeemed as one of the hardest exams to pass, once a student is admitted to the collegeof medicine, it is most likely that they will come to pass the exam. Thisis evident in the actual record of passing rate of the KMLE being above 90% formost of the previous years.1Unsurprisingly, such records reveal that these top tier students who enter thevarious colleges of medicine are academically qualified to become thesurgeons, physicians, and clinicians we see in hospitals and clinics of allsizes. A sharpturn in the above story of the occupational licensing process for Koreandoctors takes place in 2004. The issue arises with the government’swill to initiate a regulation on occupational licensing for doctors through theintegration of a medical school system in all medical universities.
Themedical school system differentiates itself from the conventional colleges ofmedicine approach in several ways. First, these medical schools do not requirethe students to be amongst the top 1% of the college entrance exams. Instead,they require students of all kinds of diverse backgrounds with the exceptionthat they pass the Medical Education Eligibility Test (MEET) upon completion oftheir undergraduate studies. In this way, these graduates, regardless of theirprevious backgrounds can apply for medical education in the medical schools andbecome doctors as well. The government announced that they had initiated themedical school system, which resembles that of the 4 year US medical educationsystem. Hence, students upon graduation from a college can apply to a medicalschool en route to becoming a doctor after another 4 years of medicaleducation. Upon announcing the initiation of the policy, the governmentjustified its actions with the aims to relieve pressure and stress on thecollege entrance exams and provide a more diverse inventory of doctors that cansupply the research and development of medicinal technologies. Conventionally,students who become doctors through the colleges of medicines lack thenature of diversity in terms of their undergraduate studies and thus lack theessential values of research and development that require more specialisationin various fields such as advanced chemistry, nanotechnology, and many more.
Inaddition to this, with such a heavy burden of passing the college entranceexams in the top tier, private expenditure on private and prior education hadbecome a dire issue. Thus, the aim of the regulation to allow students tobecome doctors through the medical schools had justified intentions to increasesocial benefit in the ultimate end. Nonetheless, numerous issues regarding thequality of doctors coming from the medical schools had collected with theonset of growing opposition from incumbent doctors and their respective medicalassociations. 1 Park, J. K.
(2014). Rapportian. Retrieved from: http://www.rapportian.com/n_news/news/view.html?no=15810