On appeal from the State Board of Medical Examiners.
Michels, Gaulkin and Deighan. The opinion of the court was delivered by Michels, P.J.A.D.
[205 NJSuper Page 399] Emilio E. Valdes, M.D. (Valdes) appeals from a final administrative action of New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners
(Board) denying his application for licensure as a physician in New Jersey. The Board concluded that the credentials submitted by Valdes did not satisfy the statutory requirements of N.J.S.A. 45:9-7 and N.J.S.A. 45:9-8 which are necessary for physician licensure in this State.
Valdes is a foreign national who was born in Cuba in 1957 and came to the United States when he was three years of age. He received a traditional American grammar and high school education which culminated in his graduation from Union Hill High School in Union City, New Jersey in June 1975. He enrolled in Saint Peter's College in Jersey City, New Jersey in September 1975, intending to major in biology.
During the 1975-1976 college year Valdes was registered in 12 three credit courses. However, his transcript reveals that he successfully completed only Introduction to English Composition I, Introduction to Philosophy I, Dynamics of College Reading, Financial Accounting, Principles of Economics I and Introduction to Sociology, earning a total of 18 credits toward a bachelor's degree. In June 1976 he was placed on academic probation. According to Valdes, this probationary status was imposed because he had failed to officially withdraw from elected courses.
Valdes did not continue with his undergraduate studies during the 1976-1977 college year. However, he did re-register at Saint Peter's in September 1977, enrolling in General Biology I, General Chemistry and Differential Calculus. Valdes did not successfully complete any of these courses and he earned no credits therefrom due to his withdrawal from undergraduate studies sometime during the term because of unspecified personal problems.
In 1978 Valdes began medical studies at the Universidad Central del Este (UCE) in the Dominican Republic, completing four and one half years of education from January 1978 through May 1982. This education included both basic premedical and medical courses, which were taken over a period of
twelve semesters. The Credentials Committee of the Board decided to question Valdes about this educational background after reviewing his transcript from UCE because his professional schooling was deemed to be "a little unusual." Specific questions were raised because of the unorthodox order in which premedical and medical courses were taken and due to the convalidation credit which had been accorded to Valdes by the university.
During an appearance before the Credentials Committee, Valdes and his counsel attempted to explain the irregularities in his transcript in terms of the UCE medical program. They contended that the first two semesters of the twelve required semesters of study normally included basic courses "which are essentially higher education . . . Something on the baccalaureate level." These two full semesters were generally taken by nationals who have gone directly from their foreign high schools to the university.
Additional questions were raised by the Credentials Committee because Valdes' UCE transcript revealed that the university had convalidated credit for several basic premedical first and second semester courses including Sociology, Literature 011, Philosophy, English and Literature 012. By virtue of this convalidation, UCE had implicitly recognized that this coursework had been completed at another educational institution. Although the completion of Introduction to Sociology and Introduction to Philosophy I was reflected on Valdes' Saint Peter's transcript, the convalidation of three additional courses was specifically questioned by the Credentials Committee.
Valdes explained that he had received credit for English Composition and Spanish Literature courses because he was bilingual and had successfully passed a convalidation examination in these subjects. It was, therefore, acknowledged that of the twelve first and second semester basic courses required at UCE, seven were actually taken ...