Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Jitters

In a few weeks, we will undergo the final exercise needed for graduation from medical school.  This is called the Revalida.  It is divided into 2 major parts: written and oral.  The written revalida was given in December 2005.  The oral revalida will commence on March 1.  It is further divided into 3 parts: Basic Sciences, Clinical Sciences, and Emergency Medicine.  A panel composed of 3 doctors (called a Tribunal or “tribe”) asks questions from a list of topics.  It can be anything medical under the sun.  The grading scale is as follows: excellent (E), pass (P), fail (F).  In order to pass the oral revalida, one needs at least 2 Ps from the tribe (a meritus).  In order to qualify for honors, one needs at least a benemeritus (at least 2 Es and no Fs).  Of course, it ain’t be bad to get a meritissimus (3 Es).  If I pass the written revalida, I am exempted from taking the first orals (basic sciences).  I wish to God that happens!

There are several issues with this kind of testing.  First of all, it is a mostly subjective evaluation of what one has learned in last four years of medical school.  Determining whether a student gets and E, P, or F is entirely under the discretion of the professor – with only his conscience and his subjective assessment to guide him.  Yes, they are provided checklists and they tick off each adequately answered question but who’s to stop them from marking a partially correct answer as incorrect?  Second, the oral revalida is frightening to say the least.  When a student cannot answer a question, it may mean one of two things: the student does not know the answer or the student knows the answer but is so frightened he draws a blank (mental block).  So we can’t really say that this is a fair assessment of one’s knowledge after four years of medical school, can we?  Thirdly, a student running for honors (cum laude average and higher) forfeits the honor if he does not get at least a benemeritus.  What is that? Four years of studying and maintaining a good average gone to waste because you draw a blank on one single test?  The fourth and most important issue with this exercise is the fact that when someone fails the exercise, one is automatically barred from graduation for that year pending several months of make-up rotations and a retake of the oral exam.  It’s as if all the hardship of med school depends on this single partially subjective exercise to test medical knowledge and clinical skills.  This exercise has been practiced in UST for decades and I understand this is already an institution in itself and will never be abolished.  It also is meant to ensure that UST graduates physicians that are supposedly competent, compassionate, and committed.  But these don’t erase the fact that the system is unfair.

So you understand why at this point, everyone has the jitters.  The exercise that will decide our med school fates is drawing close with each passing day.  I’m sure the stress level at the hospital will rise exponentially in the next few weeks.  I’m just comforted by the fact that God has everything under control and all I need to do is to trust Him.

1 comment:

Petewatcher said...

Will you know beforehand who the panelists will be? Good luck! Do your best. Don't forget to shave.