Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

The need for national medical licensing examination in Saudi Arabia

Sohail Bajammal114*, Rania Zaini1, Wesam Abuznadah2, Mohammad Al-Rukban3, Syed Moyn Aly4, Abdulaziz Boker5, Abdulmohsen Al-Zalabani3, Mohammad Al-Omran6, Amro Al-Habib6, Mona Al-Sheikh7, Mohammad Al-Sultan8, Nadia Fida5, Khalid Alzahrani9, Bashir Hamad8, Mohammad Al Shehri10, Khalid Bin Abdulrahman11, Saleh Al-Damegh12, Mansour M Al-Nozha13 and Tyrone Donnon14

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Education Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Umm Al Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia

2 National Guard Health Services, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

3 Faculty of Medicine, King Fahd Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

4 Medical Education Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia

5 Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

6 Faculty of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

7 Medical Education Unit, Faculty of Medicine, King Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

8 Faculty of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University of Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

9 Medical Services Directorate, Ministry of Interior, Saudi Arabia

10 Faculty of Medicine, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia

11 Faculty of Medicine, Al-Imam Mohammad Bin Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

12 Faculty of Medicine, Qaseem University, Saudi Arabia

13 Faculty of Medicine, Taibah University, Madinah Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia

14 Medical Education Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medical Education 2008, 8:53  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-53

Published: 25 November 2008



Medical education in Saudi Arabia is facing multiple challenges, including the rapid increase in the number of medical schools over a short period of time, the influx of foreign medical graduates to work in Saudi Arabia, the award of scholarships to hundreds of students to study medicine in various countries, and the absence of published national guidelines for minimal acceptable competencies of a medical graduate.


We are arguing for the need for a Saudi national medical licensing examination that consists of two parts: Part I (Written) which tests the basic science and clinical knowledge and Part II (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) which tests the clinical skills and attitudes. We propose this examination to be mandated as a licensure requirement for practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia.


The driving and hindering forces as well as the strengths and weaknesses of implementing the licensing examination are discussed in details in this debate.