Who Was Wrong, This Prof Or I?
Event... Paedtrics OSCE, the practicals of the exams in the subject.
Venue.... Ward D2, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos, Nigeria.
Culprit.... An examiner.... A certain Professor Fadahunsi, a consultant paediatric cardiologist...
Then an associate professor in the same field at the College Of Medicine Of The University Of Lagos....
My Dear Prof,
How are you? And how are you coping with the relative idleness of retirement?
An incident occurred in 1987 which you may not readily recall. So, my efforts at jolting your memory. It is expected that you may not retain this incident in your memory beyond the precincts of that paediatric ward, the venue of the said exam. Afterall, the producer of "shit" does not recall his sin, but the memory lingers on in the fellow that packs the "shit". So says an adage.
Above-cited incident happened when you and I were clearly unequally yoked....you the almighty examiner and I, the student whose professional certification....and impliedly, his future depended on you.
As I tried to explain to you that I was being wronged, you were so fixated in rigidity as to be deaf to my words...
So you ruled that I was wrong and you were right...
So, let's review this scenario again....
Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight and the added wisdom of age dovetailing into clarity of mind, you may see this matter in another light....the right perspective...
The Objective Structured Clinical Examination aka OSCE is in steeple-chase format. It was accorded a much higher prominence over and above the essay and MCQ (multiple choice questions) papers.
For if a candidate is returned as having failed the OSCE, then he is deemed to have failed the whole subject...irrespective of the marks he scored in the other two papers.
Each exam spot in the OSCE is called a station. Candidates are to perform assigned tasks within a time frame...usually 5 minutes...then move on to the next station at the expiration of such time....in a round-robin fashion...until each candidate goes through all stations...in turns...
Performance stations alternate with MCQ stations...such that as you leave one of the former, you encounter questions related to it in the latter.
Performance stations may require you to take a history, do a physical or other exam, examine an X-ray film, an ECG strip, a lab specimen... There are occasional rest stations.
As candidates were alloted spots in this ring of stations, I had the misfortune of staring in an MCQ station.
The type-written questions....25 in all for this station....were affixed to a clipboard....which was turned over on its face!
The instructions were clear that those of us stating off at MCQ stations were not to flip over the clipboard until we reached a performance station.
It is clearly impossible to answer these MCQs yet anyway, because the candidates are yet to encounter the related performance station! Though having such prior knowledge of the questions would confer an undue advantage on the peep!
This would amount to cheating...
And there were dire consequences for cheating...
So, as I went through the stations and came to finish at the MCQ station where I "started off", you prevented me from answering those MCQs!
These were MCQs related to the performance station I just encountered!
All persuasions to your adamant self were rudely and crudely rebuffed...
If the number of stations in an OSCE is x, each candidate in the hall would be expected to make x-1 moves...except those candidates who start off in MCQ stations, who should make one additional move.
That is, the latter group should make a total of x moves. The extra move would land them at the MCQ station from where they took off...which to them in fact, was a rest station ab initio!
So, in a 20-station OSCE, candidates that start off in performance stations would need to make 20-1=19 moves....and candidates that start off in MCQ stations would need to make 20 moves!
In essence, while x-1 moves should suffice for candidates that started off with performance stations, all candidates would need to make x moves each to avoid collisions.
The intelligent examiner only needs to instruct candidates who started at performance stations...now finishing up at the same stations....to stand still as their peers at the MCQ stations round up their exam by responding to their MCQs!
All it requires is a little bit of common sense!
It is quite exasperating that a lecturer of the rank of an associate professor in a clinical speciality would not only encounter surprising challenges in such simple arithmetic....but would in utter stubbornness, be so refractory to correction even when his attention is drawn to the fact!
Acceptably, even if some of us might have our own cloud of bad luck colouring our journey on earth....as to be so "misfortune-prone", you must accept that you did me utter injustice on that day as you led me to fail my Paediatrics exams!
Dr Tosin is medical practitioner and public affairs analyst.