According to newspaper Público, a specially-appointed national committee created by the Ministry of Health has already submitted a draft proposal of a new exam to replace the much-feared Harrison exam that was introduced almost 40 years ago.
The bill is currently up for public consultation until next month.
The new exam should be trialled next year during a pilot-phase, but only in 2019 will the Harrison exam be definitely substituted with a new test.
The National Association of Medical Students (ANEM), which represents the country’s 12,000 medical students, welcomed the proposed change to the doctors’ test to access a specialty, describing it as “a shift from an outmoded model.”
“We want a fair exam that is adequate to its purpose: to train students based on the most appropriate criteria in accessing a specialty”, the ANEM’s president Ana Rita Ramalho said in a statement, stressing that “conducting a trial run is fundamental to the success of the implementation of the new exam.”
Ms. Ramalho stressed “it is fundamental that the work developed by the National Committee responsible for the proposal of the new model of exam is not let slip, and that a follow-up of the recommendations is made so that the new deadline for implementation is encouraged and fulfilled.”
She concluded: “If the conclusions presented by the National Committee are safeguarded we will certainly have a fairer and more adequate exam for all Portuguese medical students.”
Público reports if the proposal that is currently up for public debate does not undergo major changes, the test will have 150 questions of multiple-choice answers, whereas the Harrison had 100. The exam, which used to last 150 minutes, will also be longer.
The Harrison exam focused only on the areas of internal medicine and was an examination based on the ability to memorise.