Intended for healthcare professionals

Head To Head

Should UK membership exams be held overseas? Yes

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 28 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4566
  1. Graeme Muir, examinations and assessment adviser,
  2. Justin Thacker, head of international operations
  1. 1Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  1. Correspondence to: G Muir Graeme.Muir{at}

Graeme Muir and Justin Thacker believe that UK professional qualifications can help other countries improve training and standards, but Delan Devakumar and Kate Mandeville (doi:10.1136/bmj.d4560) argue that they lack local relevance

Critics suggest that holding UK postgraduate examinations in low and middle income countries undermines the development of domestic postgraduate education, promotes syllabuses that may not be appropriate to the healthcare needs of these countries, and encourages migration, thereby damaging local healthcare systems.1

As a responsible international organisation, we are aware of these important concerns and guard against them when working with our colleagues overseas. The development of effective postgraduate education requires quality assured assessment of trained doctors at an appropriate standard. Rather than undermine local programmes, the provision of a UK postgraduate qualification can provide a springboard for further development of local postgraduate training. We believe our exam and subsequent award of an internationally recognised qualification can contribute to improving standards of clinical care.

Training benefits

Although patterns of disease obviously vary across regions, all health professionals now exist in a global health environment.2 A key question is whether an assessment covers competences that translate to another health setting. The MRCPCH, which …

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