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Monday, August 17, 2009

Take your medicine

Anyone else see the egghead student whining in the Indo today about not getting into medicine?

Some privileged 17 year old from Tipp got a load of A1s in her leaving certificate but failed the aptitude test for medicine which they introduced this year.

Now she's in the national press moaning her hole off about how terribly unfair it all is, since last year her top grades would have secured her a place in any of Ireland's medical schools.

Talk about missing the point.

We've had years of only the very bookish students being permitted to study medicine and, do you know what? It didn't improve our health service in the slightest.

In fact, the doctors themselves have been complaining that the system was promoting eggheads into medicine rather than people who actually had a vocation to be doctors. The Irish Medical Organisation has been pleading for changes to the system for years.

So now we finally have a system that says you still need something massive like 520 points in the leaving cert, but also demands that you pass a test designed to see if you're suited to being a doctor. Good news for all.

Except for whining Marie Claire McGrath. She blew the aptitude test after aceing her leaving cert. In short, she's been found out in a standardised test not to be a suitable candidate for medicine. The test itself examines specifically "a candidate's logical reasoning, problem solving and social skills." We'll come back to that in a minute.

Marie Claire clearly feels entitled to study medicine. So entitled that she's moaning in the media. You can't blame her for feeling entitled. Unkie is a well-off doctor and she'd like to be too. She tactically dropped subjects and changed schools (to one in Cork!) in order to max her chances of passing these exams.

She's also the kind of person who gives up easily. Having blamed the HPAT test for her own failing of it, she now 'doesn't know what she wants to do', but is not considering repeating the aptitude test for medicine.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't want doctors who give up and whine at the first moment of failure. I want doctors who stay the course and get people well - who are prepared to fight, in other words.

I also don't want doctors who are so nakedly ambitious and self-entitled. Marie Claire's idea of problem solving isn't to retake the test or rethink her suitability for medicine. It's to complain in the national media. The test, she feels, is at fault rather than her. That's a major breakdown in logic: the test failed her; she didn't fail the test.

I don't know what her social skills are like, but if they're like her logical reasoning and her problem solving, it's not a bit of wonder that she flunked the aptitude test for medicine.

The whole point of the new medical entry system was to weed out the unsocial, self-entitled, egghead medics and replace them with warm caring human beings with a drive to help people. That's what the aptitude test is for, and it looks like it worked perfectly on this occasion.

Perhaps Marie Claire, a 17 year old girl who apparently 'dreams of working as a GP' since she was a kid, should take her medicine and go and do something else with her life.


Peter Slattery said...

I've absolutely no sympathy for her. Aptitude tests like this make total sense and it wouldn't hurt to consider one for the Gardai too. If you're entering into a career that is so heavily involved with the public at that level, the candidate needs to be suitable for the job. Hopefully this will stop people like this McGrath one from further damaging an already dying public health system.

JC Skinner said...

She's done tremendously well in her exams. She has her pick of options here and abroad in terms of further study.
She's supposed to be a smart girl. One wonders if perhaps she's just accustomed to academic success and can't accept that she's not cut out for medicine?
I am reassured that this new system is an improvement on the old.
This individual could usefully divert her undoubted talents into any number of other areas of opportunity for her. Complaining publicly about the system doing its job is undignified of her, and one wonders why the adults in her life - be they parents or teachers - let her do so.

Fericho said...

The broader public service has a similar aptitude testing system in place but and it seems to work reasonably well in terms of getting better people through for the jobs. It's only in place up to a point though. (ie. not for senior management positions)

I've very little sympathy as well having previously shared a room in college with someone who had done his leaving cert 3 times to get into medicine and then studied every waking hour of every day to barely scrape by each year. He won't be a good doctor and I feel a test like this would have forced him into a better suited career.

On the other hand I know a guy who did a degree in chemistry and is nearly finished his PhD (which will have only taken him a little over 3 years) who is now going to go on to do medicine and had no problem whatsoever with this test. He wouldn't have had the points to do medicine in the first place but I feel he'll go on to become a fine doctor.

I think I'm actually saying that the system works. *Shock!!*

Anonymous said...

Surely those championing her case should ask some searching questions about the Leaving Cert that someone who maxes out in it fails to excel in a reasonably standard test of logic and reasoning. For me this is no surprise as we saw the panic with the English paper fiasco from students who were distressed that the poets the "learnt" might not be coming up.

David said...

To be fair to her, the newspaper probably went looking for the predictable anomaly of someone getting maximum points while still being refused their desired third-level place. They asked her how she feels and she is naturally very disappointed.

What struck me here is that higher-level maths is not needed for medicine. I'm not a doctor myself but I'd have thought you would need a logical intellect and a sound grasp of statistics, at least, to be a good one. If you have these skills, what are you doing in ordinary-level maths?

Missing Neighbour said...

It's about time they introduced something like this. There are far too many parents steering their children towards careers in medicine as a way of obtaining lucrative financial rewards (who can blame them?). This has led us into the situation where we have a medical profession that is full of people who are not really interested in practising medicine for its own rewards but are there for the huge(relatively speaking) salary's that are now available.
This has been apparent in other cultures for some time (ever notice the plethora of Indian and Chinese doctors in our health system?, but has now crept into our own. It seems more and more university's are going down the aptitude test route. someone mentioned to me recently that Queen's university in Belfast are introducing psychological profiling tests for its applicants.

JC Skinner said...

For me, aptitude tests I can see the point of, but psych profiling is all too often a pseudonym for thought policing.
An aptitude test can establish if someone is suitably skilled for a particular profession with defined skill sets.
But a psychological profile only alerts those conducting it as to whether they have heretics on their hands.
Such profiling is always skewed by the inherent ideologies of those designing the profile. Therefore they green light those who conform to the underlying ideology and red light those with dissenting opinions.
Not a road I'd like to see our universities going down, having witnessed at first hand the creeping Marxisation of various departments in a number of Irish universities.