INTERNET CORRESPONDENCE MEDICAL SCHOOLS and Questionable Schools
Am I missing something there or is this a scam in the making? by Dean Hughson, consumer advocate.
Recently I have learned of several online medical schools that have popped up outside the United States. They are heavily advertising to chiropractors,podiatrists,nurses,dentists, pharmacists, and others to get them to apply. It is interesting that I am seeing Officers of some major dental associations and even podiatry/dental professors enrolled in these schools. Unlike US medical schools most do not require that you take the MCAT medical exam. Your admission is basically your $20,000 check,as one person put it. I have contacted the Federation of State Medical Boards, the organization that helps medical boards and expressed my concerns and have contacted the Boards themselves. California,Pennsylvania,Arizona,Utah,Virginia, NY, New Mexico,Oregon,Alabama, Texas, Kansas, Tennessee and Indiana aren't allowing graduates of some of these schools to do residencies or get licensed (some both,others one or the other) but some states continue to allow the students in. They are taking the USMLE exams, the ECFMG exam
Here are 3 articles I've found on 'students' who are attending or have attended the school.
Luckily the AMA is aware now about this and has written an article about it.
You'll quickly realize that people are continuing to work and 'attending' virtual medical schools. This doesn't sound equivalent to US medical schools to me which require students to concentrate solely on their medical careers. But more importantly what concerns me also is that these schools are giving Advanced placement to people for their previous education which is not medical school so in 27 months,from the luxury of their homes or offices, these people are called MD's,unlike normal medical schools that require 48 months of study and close supervision from professors. Some of the schools require the STUDENT to find supervisors/mentors and even their own clinicals,hardly equivalent to the normal medical school experience. But you should be concerned about the safety of your local hospitals where you may experience seeing an internet 'student' doing his clinicals or a graduate doing their residency,unbeknowst to you about their training.
After you review the 'medical schools' below I urge you to contact your State Medical Board and ask them how they are dealing with the growing problem of 'online correspondence internet medical schools'. Find out if they even know that the problem exists? They may believe that these graduates actually went to the schools physically and the only way they can check is to look at their tax returns and passports for the time they supposedly were in school. Consumers deserve to know that the MD they see in someones title is a legitimate degree--many of those getting these degrees now will never be able to license but many are already using them in their chiropractic/dental practices unbeknowst to their clients as to what it means. In discussions with some of the Boards I found outright hostility that someone would question their decisions. Some chiropractors are upset by the fake degrees being offered around.
We never knew that the Internet would bring 'challenges' like this but I am sure it is only the tip of the iceberg.
SOME SCHOOLS WHERE YOU CAN ATTEND VIRTUALLY IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY (study closely the 'faculty' of these schools and try and figure their qualifications)
http://www.itgworld.com/MP_MD/ NOTE Dr. Harrington is the same one who got in trouble in Oregon.
They appear to be placing 'schools' in other places and intend to
issue medical degrees from IUHS's location...rather complex issues are being
raised in India, the home country of the ownership of this school.
http://www.stluke.edu/ Read this memo from the govt. of Liberia saying the school
doesn't exist. "As regards the St. Luke Medical College, evidence also shows that no such college exists in Liberia ; therefore, it cannot claim to have obtained accreditation from the Commission. The Commission also nullifies the existence of such an institution in Liberia , until such time as all pertinent requirements as noted above are met. It therefore goes without saying that similar notice is being sent our to all institutions which are making claims similar to St. Regis and St. Luke that have not met the requirements as herein noted. "
http://www.e-oum.net/ Here these 2 interviews by Australian radio about this
As is usual, there may be some hope. Traditional universities have formed a group to study the blending of online training and traditional study ways. But the schools will not be 100% online and will not give advanced credit for non-medical school credits. I believe that the difference in this is that it is being done by schools under study. See their webpage at:
Also, some of the graduates have apparently been charged with practicing medicine without a license in one state and resulted in some discussion among the Boards on the issue after they were informed of the problem. The problem of 'false credentials' is not often dealt with when there is another license present since it is hard to prove fraud but look for lawsuits on that in the future as trial lawyers realize this as a factor also.
An Opinion by Dean Hughson
The problems with Caribbean Medical Schools
I am not a doctor nor do I portray one on television.
I am just an interested bystander who has a son who is
thinking of going to medical school who happens to be
involved in looking at consumer issues as a hobby.
But the more I read about Caribbean med schools the
more evident to me the problems that many of you face
for the future. As long as there are so many flimsy
schools (online schools, schools that grant advanced
credit to non-medical school folks such as
the other schools will have problems. Let me give you
an example. If you were a medical board who has waded
through many applications from graduates of
non-approved schools and through mispelled letters
from Deans, documents which purport to show attendance
but when checked you find out that the students were
still working full time in their chiropractic/dental
offices I would imagine you would get rather
suspicious of all schools of the Caribbean region.
To me this is dangerous for the schools that are
trying to be equivalent to US schools (or British etc.
schools in 1st world countries). When the reality
that many of these 'schools' are actually rented
buildings with relatively non-existent local staff or
even students comes out,which it is, it hurts the
credibility of all. The same thing happened in the
80's when some Russian schools were selling MD degrees
to chiropractors and the result was Russian schools
are still having large problems getting their
graduates accepted and licensed in the US.
If I was a Ross/SGU,etc. I think I
would be forming a Caribbean Medical School
Association,with a strong code of ethics, and pushing
the govts. to help clean up the mess in the area. The
investments that real schools make in
buildings,staffs, advertising, procurement of
equipment/cadavers,etc. is immense. In a business one
sometimes has to join together with 'competitors' to
be sure that their industry is not suffering in the
public eye. The 'bad actors' hurt all, and especially
hurt innocent folks i.e. you students who are going
above and beyond the call of duty to become doctors. In fact all of the world's schools should be involved because bad actors make it bad for your industry.
I admire and respect those who are making big
sacrifices. It must not be easy to take on huge debt
loads for an uncertain future. It isn't easy to move
from the relative comfort of the US/Canada,etc. to
developing nations but all good things include some
risk. I urge you to speak out to your
professors/administration to clean up their industry
because they are risking their future and most
importantly YOUR future.