A significant change to registering as an internationally qualified doctor in South Africa

A significant change to registering as an internationally qualified doctor in South Africa

At the beginning of August, there was a monumental step change in the process of registering as an internationally qualified doctor who wishes to work in South Africa.  The first step in the process is the verification of medical credentials, which has changed from a lengthy process to a much simpler online application system.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is the statutory body that regulates health professions in terms of registrations, education and training, professional conduct and ethical behaviour, ensuring continuing professional development, and fostering compliance with healthcare standards.

The HPCSA has partnered with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) to verify the credentials of any applicant who obtained their medical qualification outside of South Africa through the ECFMG’s online application system, Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC).  Physicians can use EPIC to build a digital career portfolio of the primary-source verified credentials related to their medical training, education and registration.

Previously, the HPCSA required candidates to use ECFMG’s International Credentials Service (EICS) for the purpose of verification, which involved the couriering of paper documents, including affidavits, between the doctor’s home country, ECFMG in the United States, and the HPCSA in South Africa.

One of our current AHP doctors based at Hlabisa Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal explained what the system meant for him and his colleague: “We made first contact and started the process in July of 2014 and didn’t get out here until late in 2015. One reasonably big hurdle we had was obviously having to get all your papers signed with a specific type of notary and witnesses, and obviously that just has to be done, but with working full time, that becomes a bit tricky when you essentially need to get yourself and someone else across town to an appointment time”.

While there are still steps that require notarisation of documents, the move to EPIC means the verification process is now much simpler and faster.

Mandla Masiza, our Recruitment Support Team Leader, praised the HPCSA for adopting the new approach:  “This is such positive news and so beneficial to our candidates and the hospitals that need their services.  It is set to reduce the application process by between one and three months.  Recently we had notification that a candidate had received confirmation from the ECFMG within a couple of days.  That saves time at the beginning of the process, and then because the HPCSA can log-in to see the report rather than waiting to receive the hard copy, it will also save time during their part of the process.”

This is great news for doctors wishing to work in South Africa’s public health sector, and even better news for the underserved communities who need access to better healthcare.

For further information on working in South Africa and how AHP can assist, email us at info@ahp.org.za