Posted on May 23, 2016

The College of Medicine at Qatar University (CMED-QU) signed a Professional Consulting Services Agreement on May 22 with National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), an independent, not-for-profit US-based organization that serves the public through its high-quality assessments of healthcare professionals.

Through this agreement, NBME will support the College in aligning its standards with those of the US by leveraging CMED’s student assessment system, supporting the establishment of a CMED student examination items bank, and by conducting regional benchmarking studies on test design. The agreement was signed by QU Vice President for Medical Education Dr Egon Toft and NBME president Dr Donald E. Melnick. Vice President for International Programs Dr Brownell Anderson represented NBME at QU on the occasion.

As a first step in what is aimed to be a long-term collaboration, a team of specialized experts from NBME, will engage CMED faculty and administrators in various activities that aim to further enhance medical education and establish an assessment system that maximizes the quality of the College’s graduates. The college’s curriculum and current assessment framework will also be reviewed by the NBME team to ensure their alignment with international standards.

College administrators will be provided with recommendations on a range of topics including possible curriculum revision; timing and nature of locally-developed assessments; the most appropriate use of the portfolio of NBME assessment instruments available to North American and International medical schools; potential NBME assistance on the development of assessments to meet the needs of CMED curriculum, and development of an item bank.

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Recommendations will also be made on development of faculty expertise in teaching, curriculum design and design, construction, and interpretation of valid and reliable formative and summative examinations. Commenting on the agreement, CMED Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Prof Hossam Hamdy, said: “The College of Medicine’s focus on quality, safe medical practice and optimal patient care is in line with NBME’s mission to "protect the health of the public through state of the art assessment of health professionals”.

Based on the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) introduced by NBME in 1992, the College prepares its students for this and similar international licensing exams to ensure that the quality of its graduates is aligned with the best international standards in medical practice. This agreement is an important step for the College’s development and progress as Qatar’s first national medical college and its stated ambitions towards a knowledge-based economy”.

Dr Anderson expressed her pleasure at visiting the College of Medicine, adding, “It is exciting to be able to work with a new medical school from the beginning of its program and I hope I will have many more opportunities to observe the progress of the school in the months and years to come. The educational program is truly innovative and aligned with high quality, state-of-the-art assessment methods, all of which hold great promise for the new school, its graduates and for Qatar”.

She noted that while the individual licensing boards grant the license to practice medicine, all medical boards in the US accept a passing score on the USMLE as evidence that an applicant demonstrates the core competencies to practice medicine.