In Pakistan, a medical school is more often referred to as a medical college. A medical college is affiliated with a university as a department which usually has a separate campus. Currently, there are a total of 117 medical colleges in Pakistan, 59 of which are public and 58 private. All but two colleges are listed in International Medical Education Directory.
All medical colleges and universities are regulated by the respective provincial department of health. They however have to be recognized after meeting a set criteria by a central regulatory authority called Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). Entrance into the medical colleges is based on merit under the guidelines of PMDC. Both the academic performance at the HSC (grades 11-12) and an entrance test like MCAT are taken into consideration for the eligibility to enter most of the medical colleges.
After successfully completing five years of theoretical and practical (clinical) training in the medical college and affiliated teaching hospitals the graduates are awarded a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree. The graduates are then eligible to apply for a medical license from the PMDC. The curriculum for all colleges, irrespective of their regional location and university affiliation, is designed by PMDC. The curriculum spans a term of five years or seasons (four professional years).
First year (first professional year - part 1)
Second year (first professional year - part 2)
Third year (second professional year)
Fourth year (third professional year)
Fifth/final year (fourth professional year)
Main courses of the curriculum, respective of the academic year they are examined in, are as follows:
Theoretical, practical and clinical knowledge is assessed by one or more of the following methods; multiple choice questions (MCQs), short essay questions (SEQs), short answer questions (SAQs), laboratory skills, viva voce, and objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Required laboratory training is provided in biochemistry, histology, physiology, pharmacology, toxicology, pathology including hematology, immunology and microbiology. Teaching in gross anatomy is assisted by exploratory dissection of cadavers. A mandatory group research project is also to be submitted by the students before the fourth professional examination in the community medicine department. Students are also taught diagnostic imaging and technical report writing in the radiology department.
Clinical training and evaluation sessions (or clerkship) at the affiliated teaching hospitals is also compulsory for all medical students, especially in their second, third and fourth (final) professional years. These include observation, assisting and practice in various emergency, outpatient, inpatient and operative settings in the following rotating disciplines: anesthesiology, cardiology, dermatology, general surgery, gynecology, internal medicine, obstetrics, ophthalmology including orthoptics, orthopedics, otorhinolaryngology including acoustics, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiology and urology.
Visits to various locations for the purposes of training and understanding of social, legal, communal and preventive aspects of health are also conducted if possible, such as:
Once the student has graduated after passing his or her final (fourth professional) examination, he or she is eligible to apply for a seat as a house officer in either the attached hospital of the college (usually as a paid employee) or in any other tertiary health care hospital (usually as an unpaid employee or "honorary"). The graduate has to first register (provisional) with and acquire a certificate from PMDC. The house officer has to serve for 12 months (foundation year) at one or more hospitals in four modules; 3 months in internal medicine, 3 months in general surgery, 3 months in medicine allied and 3 months in surgery allied in any order. The graduate can then apply for a medical practice license from PMDC which will allow the medical graduate to work as a registered medical professional anywhere in the country and study for higher specialties/qualifications.