St. James School of Medicine on Bonaire does not yet meet the approval requested by America
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) is not the one who closes the doors of the St. James School of Medicine (SJSM) on Bonaire. The SJSM got three years from the American Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) to meet the quality requirements of the Netherlands for recognition. The SJSM has not yet succeeded in obtaining a positively assessed of the Nederlandse Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie (NVAO). This means that the training can not be recognized by the Netherlands. This emerges from information from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), in response to the reports about the possible closure of SJSM and questions from worried students. It is important for OCW that the situation is clear for all parties.
The St. James School of Medicine, like the other Medical Schools in the Caribbean, is an institution of higher education under American law, which aimed at achieving the American degree of Medical Doctor. Recognition by the Netherlands is important for the St. James School of Medicine, because recognition is a condition stipulated by the ECFMG to remain registered in the International Medical Education Directory (IMED). IMED provides an overview of international Medical Schools which are recognized by the government of the country of establishment. Only students of Medical Schools listed in the IMED may participate in the American exams which, when successfully completed, leads to the degree of Medical Doctor.
The Dutch government is aware of the economic importance of the Medical Schools for the islands of the Dutch Caribbean. The Netherlands applies the same rules as the Netherlands Antilles did: a Medical School may teach as a private company in the Dutch Caribbean, there is no permission needed from the Dutch government for that. Recognition by the Dutch government is not mandatory, but if a medical school wants to be recognized by the Dutch Minister of OCW, the school must meet the Dutch legal requirements for quality higher education, as required by the Wet hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek. Recognition by the Dutch government is therefore a guarantee for students that the education is of good quality. It is also important for employers who want to hire the graduates. For recognition by the Netherlands accreditation of the Nederlandse Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie (NVAO) is required, and subsequently, a positive assessment of the Inspectorate of Education. All Medical Schools located in the Dutch Caribbean have been informed of this on October 13th, 2010 through a joint letter from the Ministers of OCW and VWS.
In 2010, The SJSM started the procedure for approval by the Dutch Minister of OCW with submission of the application to NVAO for accreditation. Mid-2012 the SJSM has withdrawn its application to NVAO, before the NVAO could give an opinion about the quality of education in the accreditation decision. Assessments by the NVAO are published on the website of the NVAO www.nvao.net . On this site the positive accreditation decision by the NVAO relating to the Saba University School of Medicine (SUSOM) can be found.
The American ECFMG has determined that the Medical Schools in the Dutch Caribbean must be recognized by the Netherlands before October 1st, 2013 to remain registered. If SJSM wants a postponement of that date, the SJSM will have to arrange that themselves with ECFMG. Subsequently, it is up to ECFMG, not to the Dutch Minister of OCW, to take a decision on the postponement of that date.