TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Department of Health wants to prevent more doctors of traditional Chinese medicine from practicing Western medicine by splitting the studies and examinations for the two directions, Minister Yaung Chih-liang said Sunday.
Yaung reportedly said it expected legislation restricting the number of new doctors in Western medicine to be approved by the Legislative Yuan next year. The DOH also wrote a letter to the Ministry of Education asking it to end the practice of classes with both types of medicine as main courses.
About 80 percent of graduates in the dual study direction went on to practice Western medicine only after graduation, reports said.
The DOH suggested that universities abolish the joint study programs, though students of one type of medicine would still be allowed to choose individual courses about the other type, said Ho Cho-fei, the director of the Department of Higher Education at the MOE. Ho said his ministry would put the DOH proposal to a conference of deans of medical colleges for discussion.
Yaung said that whatever decision was eventually reached, it would not be retroactive and therefore not affect those students who had already begun their studies.
DOH Bureau of Medical Affairs Director Shih Chung-liang said that many students regarded the mixed medicine direction as a roundabout way of making it to the Western medicine sector. The total length of eight years of studies was also not enough, since at least 12 years might be required for a complete understanding of both types of medicine, Shih said.
The DOH official expressed the hope that the Legislative Yuan might approve the ending of the mixed study program in April or May next year.
Initial reactions from lawmakers were not favorable to the DOH proposal, reports said.
Ruling Kuomintang legislator Lin Hung-chih said there should be no ban on the dual study program because it was in the public’s interest that physicians in one type of medicine were also aware of treatments in the other type. If students in one direction were willing to study the other, that was a direction worthy of encouragement, Lin said.
The lawmaker added that if the government thought that eight years was not enough to master both Chinese and Western medicine, it could be acceptable to discuss an extension at the Legislative Yuan.
KMT lawmaker Chao Li-yun said the DOH’s task was to supervise the quality of medicine, but it should not exceed its jurisdiction and try to tell the MOE how to arrange medical studies.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party legislator Huang Sue-ying warned the DOH against restricting the rights of students by limiting their choice.