Requirements that must be met by a graduate from medicine studies before being licensed to practice medicine, such as internships or social service [COL35097.E]

Various published documents report on the existence of the Mandatory Social Service (Servicio Social Obligatorio, or SSO) for persons who graduate in the field of medicine, among others. Documents consulted refer to Decree 2396 of 1981 regulating Law 50 of 1980, which in turn established the Mandatory Social Service (Minsalud 10 Mar. 1998; Bogota District Health Secretariat 1 June 1998). One document reports that as of early 1999 the regular one-year SSO period was to be reduced to six months in some areas of the country due to "public order problems that prevent the effective delivery of medical services" (problemas de orden publico que han impedido la prestación oportuna y eficiente de los servicios de salud) (Minsalud 3 Dec. 1998).

An official at the Information Services Directorate of the Ministry of Health of Colombia stated during a 4 August 2000 telephone interview that internships at a hospital or clinic, called pasantías in Colombia, are essential for acquiring medical experience and are part of the curriculum in the studies of medicine, not a post-graduate requirement. The Mandatory Social Service requirement for persons who finish their studies in medicine is currently in effect, and has been in effect for several years. The representative added that the Mandatory Social Service takes place after the internship and any other studies are completed; the requirement is for one year of social service at a public or non-profit health service after having completed medical studies (ibid.).

Students who complete their studies in medicine register at their regional health section (seccional regional de salud), and their registration is forwarded to the Ministry of Health in Bogota (ibid.). The Ministry then assigns a posting to the graduate, according to the area where they live and/or study; the Ministry generally posts or attempts to post graduates at places near the place where they studied or reside, to minimize hardship (ibid.). After completing the year of Mandatory Social Service, the doctor of medicine can receive his professional license (autorización y registro profesional) (ibid.).

Persons who graduate from studies in medicine abroad can apply for their professional accreditation in Colombia without performing the Mandatory Social Service, as long as they have a professional medical license in a country that has an international agreement with Colombia on this matter (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Ministerio de Salud (Minsalud), Bogota. 4 August 2000. Telephone interview with Information Services official.

_____. 3 December 1998. Resolucion 04548 de 1998 (Diciembre 3). [Accessed 4 Aug. 2000]

_____. 10 March 1998. Resolucion 765 de 1998( Marzo 10). [Accessed 4 Aug. 2000]

Secretaria Distrital de Salud, Bogota. 1 June 1998. Resolucion No. 000571. [Accessed 4 Aug. 2000]