Doctors' Specialisation and Certification

After qualification from medical school, a doctor will obtain his basic medical degree. This generally will be in the form of MB BS or MD. He or she will generally work as an intern (houseman) for a period of time to gain working experience before embarking on specialisation.

In some countries, there are established schemes involving a required period of structured training with interval assessments and examinations. In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, it is traditional for these doctors to obtain a diploma from the respective Royal Colleges of their specialty after successfully taking their examinations. For many years, ownership of these diplomas from overseas was accepted as the only proof of specialisation in Malaysia.

Medical practice was largely divided into internal medicine under the remit of the Royal Colleges of Physician, surgery under the remit of the Royal Colleges of Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology under the remit of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, radiology under the remit of Royal College of Radiology, pathology under the Royal College of Pathology and psychiatry under the Royal College of Psychiatry and successful completion in training and exit examination earns one either a membership or fellowship of his or her respective college. In the United States, these structured training are termed residency program and will eventually lead to a Board Certification Examination on passing of which the candidate becomes Board Certified in that specialty.

In recent years, the major established medical schools in Malaysia started to run mastership courses in several common specialties which lead to a Master Degree in these specialties and accepted now as proof of specialisation. Whilst the local Master Degree Program provides the basis for medical specialisation in Malaysia, it barely meets the demand for higher medical training and the country continues to rely on specialisation training and certification from overseas. Indeed, with ongoing development and progress in medical science, overseas training provides the main opportunity of highly specialized training and subspecialisation.

Indeed, even in the United Kingdom, the Royal Colleges with their Royal Charters to conduct examination and award diplomas have begun to conduct exit examinations in many specialties in both Internal Medicine and Surgery and award a fellowship in these disciplines. These certificates are essentially diploma of proof of specialisation and are to be differentiated from training fellowship certificates awarded from single institution, either a university or hospital, which essentially certify that an individual has spent the required period of time and obtained the required exposure in that area of specialty.