Saudi Commission for Health Specialties Professional Classification and Registration of Health Practitioners Manual

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Professional Classification and Registration of Health Practitioners Manual

1430 A.H. – 2009 A.D.

5th Edition

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Commission for Health Specialties

Professional Classification and Registration of Health Practitioners Manual

1430 AH – 2009 A.D.

5th Edition







General Definitions


Principles and Standards


Degrees and Certificates That Are Not Professionally Classified


Health Related Courses and Changing Specialties


Health-related courses


Changing specialty


Classification of Health Assistants, technicians and Health Specialists




Medical Laboratories










Classification of pharmacists






Spinal Adjustment




Medicine, Dentistry and Podiatry


Post-Graduate Specialty Certificates/Degrees in Medicine


Examples of certificates equivalent to the Saudi Specialty Certificate


Subspecialty and Non-certified Subspecialty Training


Additional Specialties


Definitions of Some Special Certificates


Field Epidemiology Diploma


Degrees/certificates from the Russian Federation and Ukraine


Degrees/certificates from Poland


Degrees/certificates from the Czech Republic


Bachelors of nursing, applied medical sciences and equivalents from the Philippines and India


Visiting Doctors


General Terms


Professional Classification and Registration Fees


Certificate Attestation


Continuous Medical Education

الهيئة السعودية

للتخصصات الصحية

Saudi Commission

for Health Specialties


The Chairman of the Board of Trustees,

by virtue of the powers vested in him and as decided in the first meeting of the Board of Trustees on 29 April 2008, during which the memo submitted to the Board requesting the approval of the Professional Classification and Registration Manual was discussed,

hereby decides to:

1. approve the 4th edition of the Professional Classification and Registration Manual, issued in 2005.

2. authorize the Executive Board to approve any future amendments in order to keep up with new developments relating to professional classification or registration.

Minister of Health

Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Dr. Hamad bin Abdullah al-Mani’


The Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCHS), based on the belief in the important role it was assigned in the field of health professions and in order to accomplish the tasks it was entrusted with carefully and honestly, appreciates the trust granted by our prudent government pursuant to Royal Decree No. M/2, dated 6/2/1413 AH. Accordingly, the Commission believes that it should start off with addressing the goals related to establishing the proper standards and criteria for the practice of health professions and classification of health-related degree holders into the appropriate professional levels according to their academic qualifications and practical skills, as it is axiomatic that any shortcoming in professional practice would endanger a human life in our dear country.

The Commission, in an effort to put things into perspective and establish general rules for dealing with practitioners according to their qualifications and experience, set the required criteria and procedures for the equivalency of health-related degrees as well as the subsequent professional evaluation and classification of degree holders. Therefore, the Commission established several, accurate and objective criteria for assessing pre-graduation (training) and post-graduation (actual) experience and certifying practitioners. Essentially, the minimum requirements for qualifying to any professional level are the requirements for the programs approved by the Kingdom, which are used as benchmarks for all degrees that need to be classified. It should be noted, and stressed, that the Commission does not mean to belittle or question the academic competence of any institution whatsoever; the purpose is to put everyone in the place they deserve due to the great disparity in training methods and periods across countries, distinguish those who are competent and up-to-date with the latest developments in the field, and nominate strong and honest practitioners who can be entrusted with human lives in the healthcare sector to assume roles that correspond to their abilities. Moreover, we would like to note that the ad hoc committees responsible for the assessment of professional abilities and capacities, as well as assessment tests and professional classification, aim to ensure the required basis for safe practice, away from verbal complexity and sheer academics.

HE the Minister of Health, Chairman of the Commission’s Board of Trustees, issued decision No. 9A/28, dated 12/4/1428, adopting the Professional Classification and Registration Guide and authorizing the Commission’s Executive Council to approve any future amendments, in order to keep up with new developments relating to professional classification or registration.

Prof. Hussein Mohammad al-Freihi

Secretary General

I. General Definitions





The Commission

Saudi Commission for Health Specialties



One who holds the required academic qualifications and has the experience to safely hold a specific job in the Kingdom’s healthcare sector.


Professional registration

Creating a record for the health practitioner in the Commission’s database in order to keep track of his professional development and acquaint him with the Saudi Medical Code of Ethics.




Updating the practitioner’s data and his commitment to continuous training and education programs after the registration period expires. The registration period is no more than three years for non-Saudis and no more than five years for Saudis, while practitioners over 60 must provide proof of their physical fitness for practice.




is a sequential process starting with the verification and authentication of qualifications and experiences and their relevance, and ending with a professional assessment is conducted to ensure that the minimum standards for safe practice are met regarding practical, clinical and theoretic practice; and accordingly, determining the professional level based on degrees, experience and assessment.


Professional assessment

A procedure performed by the Commission to determine the competence as well as the academic and professional level of the applicant, it includes either one or more of the following:

1. A consultant studies the application to decide the appropriate level.

2. Written examination.

3. Academic, practical and clinical assessment by a specialist committee.



A hospital that accommodates the primary specialties and has at least one consultant or specialist registrar in each specialty.


Specialty center

A facility specialized in one medical specialty or medical support science where consultants work.


On-the-job training

The qualified practitioner’s attendance of a training program to learn a new technology pertaining to his specialty. The training course is not considered a qualification and half of its actual hours are counted as credit hours.


Training center

A hospital or specialty center recognized by the official authorities for training purposes.



Ongoing practice in the specialty field. Experience is counted as follows:

A. Each year of service at a hospital or a specialty center is equivalent to one year of experience.

B. Each year of service at a health center or an equivalent facility is equivalent to six months of experience.

C. If the practitioner does not practice his specialty, his experience is not counted and he is considered non-practicing.


Experience acquisition

The required experience to qualify for a higher level or for those who demonstrate professional shortcomings, either by failing the professional assessments administered by the Commission or by non-practicing.



Not practicing the specialty field for two or more years.


General practitioner

/General dental practitioner

Holder of a bachelor’s degree in general medicine or dentistry who has at least completed the internship year.



A. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in general medicine or dentistry who has completed the internship year and has at least one year of experience in the specialty field.

B. Holder of a diploma (one year) in a medical specialty.

C. Holder of a diploma/master’s degree (no less than two years) in a medical specialty, but does not yet have the required experience to qualify as a senior house officer.


Senior house officer

Holder of a specialty degree (no less than two years) who has the required experience. The total period of training to receive the degree as well as the actual experience must be four years.


Specialist registrar

Holder of the Saudi specialty certificate (or equivalent).



Holder of the Saudi specialty certificate (or equivalent) who has at least three years of experience in the specialty field at a recognized hospital or center.


General specialty

Major specialty in one field of medicine, such as internal medicine and surgery. Training is carried out within a specific method at recognized center after receiving a bachelor of medicine. The practitioner must practice in the same specialty field.



Specializing in a subspecialty of general medicine. Training is carried out through the acquisition of practical and theoretical experience after receiving a post graduate degree in a general specialty, e.g. specializing in cardiology after specializing in internal medicine.


Non-certified subspecialty

Specializing in a medical subspecialty (cardiology, neurology, endocrinology, etc), without receiving a post graduate degree in general specialty. Training is carried out after receiving a bachelor of medicine. The practitioner must practice in the same specialty field.



Holder of medical or health qualification who is not entitled to practice in the specialty because of non-practicing for two years.


Saudi Specialty


The highest professional certificate the Commission awards physicians. It is awarded after completing standardized clinical training and passing the required assessments. It is equivalent to a PhD.

II: Principles and Standards of Professional Registration and Classification:

2- 1) In principle, the Commission recognizes all certificates issued by recognized and internationally renowned universities, authorities and equivalent institutions. However, it preserves the right to reject any certificate that contravenes the regulations and standards applicable in the Kingdom.

2-2) Saudis who receive their degrees (bachelor’s, master’s or PhD) from abroad must get a certificate of equivalency from the Ministry of Higher Education.

2-3) The Commission recognizes all domestic health training programs supervised by Saudi universities and similar institutions which comply with the requirements set by the Commission. However, the Commission preserves the right to exclude any program that fails to meet the requirements and to subject its graduates to professional classification as required.

2-4) The Commission recognizes certificates issued by private health institutes and community colleges that are licensed by the relevant authorities in the Kingdom, provided that their graduates pass the Commission’s classification examinations.

2-5) All applicants for professional classification must pass the professional assessment procedures enforced by the Commission.

2-6) The Commission is aware of the difference between the certificate and its holder; therefore, it recognizes professional classification as a way to classify practitioners based on their abilities and experience at the time of assessment.

2-7) Whereas professional classification aims to qualify candidates for professional practice, the time acknowledged for classifying certificates in clinical specialties is the same as the actual time spent in practical training in the specialty field.

2-8) The health training and educational programs accepted by the Commission are standardized programs which practitioners join and gradually advance both in terms of level and responsibilities according to specific standards, and provided at competent training centers, provided that they meet the minimum limits of training set by the Commission.

2-9) Health certificates and qualifications are classified according to the program’s minimum admission requirements.

2-10) Adding the hours of different courses together and decreasing the required period of experience is not allowed for qualification purposes in the healthcare sector.

2-11) In classifying practitioners, the Commission observes the regulations and statutes effective in the Kingdom, including the Health Professions Statute, Practice of Health Professions Regulations and Private Health Institutions Regulations, in addition to the Commission’s training regulations and statutes.

2-12) Overlapping training periods to obtain different qualifications are counted only once.

2-13) If a preliminary decision assigns a lower qualification level based on the applicant’s score in the examination, reclassification is not allowed before the elapse of one year as from the date of decision or assessment.

2-14) Holders of degrees equivalent to the Saudi Specialty Certificate who are, in accordance with Saudi universities’ regulations, promoted to associate professors while working at their universities, may be classified as consultants upon the Professional Classification Committee’s recommendation.

2-15) Certificates that are not included in this manual shall be classified in accordance with the applicable training regulations in the Kingdom.

2-16) Classification applications submitted by non-Saudis who do not have the required experience shall not be accepted, unless they are born in the Kingdom or regular residents who have at least finished high school in the Kingdom. In such cases, they must work under the supervision of a specialist until they complete the required (two) years of experience.

III: Degrees and Certificates That Are Not Professionally Classified:

3-1) Purely academic programs in nature that do not include patient care, clinical practice or practical training in the field.

3-2) Health Certificates acquired through honorary training programs, as a visiting physician or a non-practicing attaché, or those acquired through correspondence and the like.

3-3) Certificates related to folk medicine which is not acknowledged in the Kingdom.

3-4) Certificates issued by non-health colleges and institutes.

3-5) Bachelor’s degrees in education, such as domestic economy and special education.

3-6) Bachelor’s degrees and diplomas granted by non-medical laboratories, such as chemistry, biology or zoology labs.

3-7) Certificates that are not subject to recognized training programs or those are acquired while working for non-recognized training centers.

3-8) Registration certificates that are considered as practice licenses or membership certificates of certain associations which are granted after passing the licensing examination in some countries such as the United Stated of America.

3-9) Certificates obtained or granted through distance education or correspondence study which contravene the regulations of higher education.

3-10) Bridge programs provided by some universities to graduates of institutions abroad, such as bridge program in radiology at Sudan University for Science and Technology.

3-11) Diploma of Psychiatric Practice (DPP); issued by Ain Shams University in cooperation with King’s College London.

3-12) Dermatology diploma or PhD granted by Boston University, USA, and similar certificates in the field of human medicine.

3-13) Certificates issued by the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of the United States.

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