Specifics of Studying Medicine

Limit on the number of Medical students

In Belgium, healthcare is paid by the patient but reimbursed by the Institut National d’Assurance Maladie-Invalidité (INAMI). Therefore, to be able to be reimbursed when treating patients, it is necessary to take some set courses (Bachelor + Master in Medicine) which are then supplemented by a Specialised Master’s (in General Medicine or another medical specialisation) in order to receive an INAMI number.

In October 2016, the Belgian government decided that INAMI numbers would be awarded to students who pass an exam (put in place by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation) at the beginning of their studies, starting from the 2017-2018 academic year.

In Belgium, in order to conform to the European norm, students now study medicine for 6, rather than 7, years. There are certain general and specific prerequisites (chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics) common to the 5 universities of the French Community in Belgium which organise a Bachelor’s in Medicine (Namur, Louvain, Brussels, Liège and Mons). These were set according to what knowledge was expected to be acquired after studying ‘general science’ at secondary school.

Unlike the curricula for biomedical science and pharmaceutical science, the medicine curriculum does not cover certain basics in the taught courses. Therefore, to determine if the prerequisites have been attained, an admissions exam for medicine (test d’orientation du secteur de la santé (TOSS)) had been organised until this year. The prerequisites evaluated through this test are published in the government’s law of the 2nd May 2013 on the admissions test for the medical sector and for the preparation of medical studies. These prerequisites form the basis of the evaluation of scientific knowledge in the admissions exam. The exam also covers more general skills, specifically the student’s abilities in French. With the change in procedure, the prerequisites will soon be fixed by decree.

For those who do not feel that they are ready to take the admissions test in September, or who feel that they would not pass this test, the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy suggests registering for the first year of biomedical science. As such, these students will find that the courses cover the evaluated prerequisites, giving them a better chance of passing the exam the following year. Indeed, the courses given include certain modules specifically dedicated to this goal. Furthermore, any modules that students pass during this first year could count towards other courses of study within the Faculty, as well as study programmes elsewhere, for example, biology, psychology or engineering.