In an effort to enhance the quality of healthcare professionals in Zambia, the Health Professions Council of Zambia (HPCZ) conducted its highly anticipated Licensure exam between the 20th of February and the 3rd of March 2023. Following the conclusion of the exam, the council recently unveiled the results, shedding light on the performance of aspiring healthcare practitioners. With a pass rate of 61.5%, these results not only signified the achievements of the examinees but also offer a promising outlook for the future of healthcare in Zambia.
A total of 1,949 candidates registered for the Licensure exam, but only 1,929 individuals managed to take the test. The examination process consisted of two parts: a theory exam and a practical assessment. These assessments were conducted simultaneously in three major centres across the country, namely Lusaka, Ndola, and Livingstone. The comprehensive nature of the exam aimed to evaluate the candidates’ theoretical knowledge as well as their practical skills, ensuring that the aspirant healthcare professionals possessed the necessary competencies to provide optimal care.
The Licensure exam encompassed fifteen different disciplines, each represented by a diverse group of candidates. The pass rates varied across these disciplines, revealing strengths and areas for improvement within the healthcare sector. The breakdown of the pass rates for each discipline was as follows:
- Medical Doctors: 88.4%
- Pharmacists: 31.1%
- Pharmacy Technologists: 48.6%
- Clinical Technologists: 50%
- Medical Licentiates (Similar to physician associates or assistants): 44.2%
- Clinical Officer General: 42.7%
- Clinical Officer Psychiatry: 81.8%
- Emergency Care Officer Degree: 100%
- Emergency Care Officer Diploma: 100%
- Environmental Health Officers: 87.9%
- Environmental Health Technologists: 52.1%
- Public Health Scientists: 85.7%
- Community Health Assistants: 95.8%
- Dental Surgeons: 28.6%
- Dental Technologists: 42.9%
The significant variation in pass rates among these disciplines highlights the need for further analysis and improvement in certain areas. While medical doctors and emergency care officers achieved remarkable success rates, disciplines such as pharmacists and dental surgeons experienced lower pass rates, indicating areas where additional support and resources may be required.
The release of the exam results sparked discussions and reflections within the healthcare community. While the exams were generally well received, some sectors voiced the need for more consultative meetings before the implementation of such assessments. This feedback highlights the importance of collaboration and inclusivity in shaping the future of healthcare education and evaluation in Zambia. By engaging with stakeholders, incorporating diverse perspectives, and fostering open dialogue, the HPCZ can ensure that future iterations of the Licensure exam align with the needs and expectations of the healthcare sector of the country.
Looking ahead, the HPCZ has announced that the next set of Licensure exams is scheduled to take place in September 2023. Candidates who were not successful in the recent exams will have three more opportunities to attempt the exam, providing them with ample time to enhance their knowledge and skills. The unsuccessful candidates would also be encouraged to partake in attachments to further enhance their learning and improve their chances of passing the exams. This opportunity for multiple attempts as well as attachments not only supports aspiring healthcare professionals but also reflects the commitment of the HPCZ to promote continuous learning and growth within the industry.
By establishing a standardized examination process, the HPCZ aims to improve the quality of healthcare workers eligible to practice in Zambia. The Licensure exams serve as a crucial gatekeeper, ensuring that only competent and qualified individuals enter the healthcare workforce. As the exams become a regular feature of health education in Zambia, the onus is on higher learning institutions providing these disciplines to adequately prepare their students.