The Medical Council’s pre-registration examination system (PRES) level 3 clinical skills examination remains suspended for over a year, with 199 doctors waiting to sit the exam as of early March 2021. Some cohorts of international medical graduates are required to complete the PRES exams to register with the Medical Council and practice in Ireland.
A spokesperson for the Medical Council told the Medical Independent on 25 March: “The medical schools host the PRES 3 exams on behalf of the Medical Council and due to the Covid pandemic, the exams scheduled for March 2020 were cancelled and it has not been possible to reschedule.”
The Council has “been in touch with the medical schools on a number of occasions this year to see if they are in a position to host the exams again this year but in the current circumstances it will not be possible”. As it is a clinical exam, with doctors and patients in close proximity, “this would be contrary to social distancing guidelines,” according to the Council’s spokesperson. No potential dates had so far been identified for 2021.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and once it is possible to hold the exams again, we will contact the doctors waiting to sit the PRES 3,” said the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the Council reiterated its view that designation of alternative exams to PRES 2 made it easier for applicants to apply for registration via the PRES route. Prior to 2016, the PRES 2 could only be undertaken “in a very limited number of test centres”. To make it easier for applicants from outside of Europe to apply for registration via the PRES route, the Council decided that new applicants would be required to pass one of the alternative exams deemed to be an acceptable equivalent.
By accepting the alternative exams, the Council “is facilitating applicants to choose from a far wider range of test centres worldwide”.
“We are actively exploring options to facilitate applicants applying for registration via the PRES route but given the importance of ensuring the integrity of the exam system, it will take time,” added the spokesperson.