RE: TRUE FACE OF PG MEDICAL TRAINING IN NIGERIA

My attention has been drawn to a rejoinder by an examiner of the Postgraduate Medical College on this matter.

A Dr P.O. Olatunji in his lopsided presentation:
1. Laid false claim that the authur, Dr. Timi Babatunde stood guilty of misrepresentation and ommisions whereas the author merely presented the truth.

2. Questioned the author's genuineness as a doctor in a vain attempt to discredit his testimony.

3. Left out the issue of subjective exam format in the form of the Long Case method....(the crux of the author's submission)....to pave way for avenues to manipulate exam results.

4. Curiously justifies such subjectivity on the altar of "standard"

5. Laid false claim that "most" residents simultaneously engage in private practice without quoting any reliable statistical data.

6. Wrongly compared the products of the said exams to SANs who are not required to pass any formal exams to attain such status...and still....ICAN products.

7. Erroneously posited that the whole essence of the author's treatise was to villify the examiners and the college!...in a veiled attempt to divert public attention from the real thrust and essence of the article.

8. That afterall, he and others of his rank and status also went through the same system!...confirming that he is a man averse to change!

9. He deliberately ommitted the issue of formal training in teaching methodologies for medical trainers.

10.Maintained that the author should have directed his "complaint and panacea" to the postgraduate medical colleges knowing that such adresssees failed to accord due cognizance to such suggestions in the past.

With due respect, I thereby submit that Dr Olatunji was more desperate to see to the retention of the status quo than do a fair appraisal of the article.

I could exonerate the trainees....on a relative level of culpability. Remember, such trainees are already doctors.

It reeks of sheer falsehood to claim that the "trainees" are unwilling to learn. Failing 80-90% of your wards or charges on the altar of "standard" and gloating over it shows that the teacher is incompetent at teaching. That "he" lacks the skills....the temperament...or even the gumption to teach. Afterall, medical trainers had no formal training in teaching.

I thus proffer that residents as future teachers, temporize in nearby faculties of education to equip them with teaching skills. Medical teachers must also undergo periodic psychiatric assessment. The resident, (a future consultant and peer of his trainer and examiner) must not be perceived as a potential threat. The trainer thinks in terms of supply and price value...so the fewer the merrier! The format of the exams must change! Why rewrite theory papers already passed? Passed courses need merely be credited to the candidate...till he passes the practicals, a must! Retain the OSCE.....but do away with the Long Case method....and all.....repeat all other subjective elements of the exams!

An exam that fails almost all candidates is USELESS!....since it fails to discriminate between the good and the "bad" candidates. I have read a lot about medical education....and know that relevant authorities predetermine what percentage of candidates they intend to pass....based on the strength cum toughness of the exam...a veritable outcome of statistical analysis! This practice is global. But trust the Nigerian examiner to abuse it! Such scenario played itself out even in undegraduate medical education at the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos during my days as student. Some lecturers gloated over the failure rate they could return to the Academic Board....especially "Gadaffi" in O&G! Fela's elder brother would coyly fill up beakers with lager beer and present such in exams as urine! Some examiners slept off during exams! The scenario is worse during residency. A panelist refers to a "narrow gate".....already presumed to allow in few persons! Yet the general public is yet to grasp the true meaning of failing medical exams.....

Dr Tosin Akindele is a Lagos-based medical practitioner, founder of Analytical Minds, good health advocate and social critic.

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Articles by Tosin Akindele