This week, there was a large and very costly technology failure during the Royal Australian College of Physicians exam. The costs from this, aside from the financial have become very apparent. I’ve been observing social media and the fallout from this exam technology failure has exposed a few very important points for medical education.
- The amount of distress that delegates appear to be experiencing both leading up to and after the exam should not be acceptable. I’ve read descriptions of the way people have moulded their lives, made sacrifices, and very often appear to be incredibly tightly wound due to the immense tension the exam preparation places on them. I recall running into a friend last year before her exam preparation for the same college, and to see a woman of great strength, grace, intelligence and wisdom become reduced to someone resembling one of the ‘poor unfortunate souls’ from the Little Mermaid – in order to become someone of apparently more intelligence and qualification, simply does not make sense, and should not be happening.
This really struck a chord with me.
Why are we allowing exam processes such as these, and the tension that comes with them to dominate our lives?
Why have we not as a collective said that this is enough already?
As medicos, we simply seem to accept that life is crap when we are studying and doing exams. What if it didn’t need to be this way? From the voicing I’m hearing, this well could be the point that we have come to from the exposure of this technology failure.
- There has been a lot of talk about the response from the college (Royal Australian College of Physicians) on the day of the exam, and how it just did not support the candidates who had been sitting the exam and were left with the fallout from it. There are now calls to the college to rectify this, and their approach moving forward. My question would be, how is a college such as this not already set up to respond in a way that supports its candidates wholly when something like this occurs? It may be seen as beyond the means or the remit of the college, but what if it wasn’t accepted as this from the get-go? No doubt there are a team of people within the college currently working very hard to respond to this event in many facets, and by all intents likely doing their best.
Our colleges and governing bodies are as good as what we put into them – in terms of our contribution, values and efforts to make them the institutions we would like them to be, and to have the support that is actually needed to train physicians in this day and age. One of the greater learnings from this event is that we can all have a closer look at the colleges we belong to, the exam and support processes that exist and if they are not enough, look at what we can possibly do to change them.