Lahore: The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) seem confused with regards to verification of 45 degrees/certificates submitted by candidates aspiring for the posts of VC at three medical universities in Punjab. The confusion started when some reports appeared that some of the applicants had obtained online degrees which are considered counterfeit.
It is a known fact that degrees can easily be verified through the web through very credible websites either for free or for a small charge. The issue faced by PM&DC is that they have been asked to verify the degrees without any names which mean only the degree accreditation can be verified and not the specific qualifications of the person holding it.
It all started when the process to hire vice chancellors for the University of Health Sciences, King Edward Medical University and the Fatima Jinnah Medical University was initiated. The Punjab health department approached the PMDC for the verification and evaluation of 45 national and international degrees of the candidates.
It seems like a paradox as all promotions are approved by HEC or PM&DC only when a candidate has approved qualifications from the approved universities and yet PM&DC is finding it difficult to get the degrees verified, which should be verified before these candidates became eligible.
The PMDC was contacted to advise the government on the status and standing of different degrees having different nomenclatures.
Some major qualifications which were mentioned in the list of 45 degrees included American Board of Preventive Medicine, Fellowship from American Gastroenterology Association, Membership of American Society of Gastrointestinal, Certified Forensic Consultant, Diploma in Health Professional Education, Fellow of American College of Cardiology, Fellow of American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, Fellow of College of Surgeons, Fellow of Health Professional Education, Fellow of International College Surgeons, Member of American Medical Society, Masters in Health Administration, Membership Health Professional Education, Professional Master of Health Professionals Educations etc.
The official said the health department had clearly mentioned in the advertisement the criteria for the candidates.
The holders of level-III medical qualification were held eligible for these slots, according to the requirement set by the health department.
There are four types of medical qualifications in Pakistan. The level-I is graduation (MBBS/BDS) and level-II is categorised as level II-a (one-year after level-I) and level II-b (two years after level-I).
Level-III consists of three to four years training programme including FCPS, MD/MS, etc. Level-IV is about minimum two years of recognised post-graduation in related field after level-III.
The council can contact the degree-awarding foreign institution specially the ones already on the approved list and those which are not known to the council can be contacted to evaluate their curriculum and training facilities. Diplomatic channels can also be used if need be
It is a general belief that in the past many people with dubious degrees not only flourished but even elevated to coveted posts of VCs.
There are Accreditation Councils in most of the developed world like in the US, they have Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) which is an independent physician-led organisation that sets and monitors the professional educational standards essential in preparing physicians. There are similar bodies throughout the world to purge individuals with dubious credentials.
Obtaining a degree online is no big deal but there are ways of checking if the candidate actually visited the said country by looking at his/her passport as online degrees do not state if they have been awarded online or in person.
In order to become a VC the ideal candidate should have level-four qualifications like FCPS, MD, MS, PhD, or the fellowship of the American or the Royal colleges after post-graduation. The candidate should have published 28 research papers in ‘impact factor’ journals.