“I had never imagined that when I arrived in my country after nearly 8 years, my degree would not be verified,” Stephanie Bermodez, a Colombian graduate student in general medicine at Belgorod State Research University, laments.
Since 2017, the Colombian Ministry of National Education has refused to ratify dozens of general medicine degrees awarded by Russian universities. This situation did not change even during 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic was on the rise and Colombia was more than ever in need of new doctors.
All health field bachelors degrees, to be validated in Colombia, must undergo an academic evaluation aimed at studying, evaluating and issuing a concept about the training acquired by the applicant abroad, in relation to the programs offered in the Colombian territory. The body responsible for conducting this assessment is the National Inter-Sectoral Committee for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (CONACES), and the main reason for rejecting these endorsements is that There is no regular boarding school in RussiaThat is, a full and continuous year of internships under the supervision of a permanent teacher.
“It was not possible to demonstrate that the academic program the auditor completed met the requirements and develop the competencies required to obtain a comparable degree in Colombia,” says CONACES in one of the multiple non-verification decisions issued. During the past years.
However, medical graduates from Russian universities argue that this is “nonsense”, because in Russia, as in many countries of Europe and Latin America, Practices They are split into undergraduate courses and an additional 17 weeks in the summer.
In fact, when you add in the training hours that medical students spend during their 6-year career in Russia, approximately 4,500 are obtained, a figure much higher than the 1,600 pre-professional training hours required by the Colombian educational system.
On the other hand, doctors argue that the decision of the Colombian Ministry of Education, issued on October 9, 2019, which is currently in force, stipulates that the approval of the Diploma A. Bachelor’s degree in clinical practice (Which all postgraduate students attend in Russia) Or a certificate of the periodic year.
Many of these health professionals have used social media to give a public voice to the problem they face. Some sought help from the Minister of National Education, Maria Victoria Angulo Gonzales.
Ironically, the Colombian Institute for Educational Credit and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX), an entity linked to the Ministry of Education, It provided scholarships with the Russian government to hundreds of medical students To pursue their career in Russia. In fact, the Colombian government itself makes all scholarship recipients sign a commitment to return to Colombia after completing their studies in Russia, to practice in their country.
“It’s very disappointing to study for so many years and then feel like it’s lost. I wonder, is my studies worth nothing?”
“What I never imagined was that when I arrived in my country after nearly 8 years they were unable to prove my title,” he laments in statements to RT Stefanee Bermúdez, a Colombian student who graduated in general medicine at Belgorod State Research University (Russia). Highly hopeful that I study for many years and then feel lost. This affected me so much emotionally. I wonder, is my studies worth nothing? Was being away from my family for so long in vain? Does the Russian language give me nothing as a professional? “
“The situation was complicated and frustrating,” said a general medicine graduate at the Russian Peoples’ Friendship University, Heidi Johanna-Zamora Rodriguez, because her verification process has been archived and she does not know how and when. It has been done. It will solve the problem.
“My life project stoppedI have even considered changing my profession or leaving the country to be able to practice. It is sad that we have been denied this right, after so much time and effort expended to successfully end our university career. This is unfair “.
The dilemma of recognition of foreign qualifications in Colombia It is not limited to Russia only. Medical students graduating from universities in Argentina, Cuba, Brazil and Spain were also affected.
This was the case of Juan Pablo Oval, a specialist in thoracic surgery, who, after receiving his degree, obtained his degree at the University Hospital of A Coruña (Spain), He was forced to go on hunger strike for 22 days And to tie himself in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Education in Colombia to verify his title. The Spanish institution itself officially expressed its disagreement with the CONACES decision, and only after that was Ovalle’s address validated.
He told the BBC on February 1, when he was still in full swing: “It is normal for all countries to have different accreditation systems, but here they want everyone to adapt to the Colombian system, so that the world revolves around them.” Protest.
In an interview with RT, general surgeon Paula Alexandra Muñoz Cepeda, a graduate of the University of Russian Peoples’ Friendship, denounced that the constant refusal by the Ministry of Education to approve foreign medicine degrees is motivated by hidden interests.
“It is normal for all countries to have different accreditation systems, but here they want everyone to adapt to the Colombian system.”
“Universities that offer medical jobs along with medical associations don’t want Colombia to have too many health professionals, because that means a drop in their very high salaries.”
Daniel Alejandro Sepulveda Romero, a general practitioner who graduated from Rostov State Medical University in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, agrees with Cepeda in this regard.
“There is a lot of frustration when you can’t bring your professional skills to a country with so many health needs,” Romero says.
The RT team contacted the Colombian Ministry of National Education requesting their comments on the validation of university degrees in medicine granted abroad, but they have not received any response yet.