Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Finally a Response!

Just had an email about my appeal against a mark received in a recent exam, it was a very polite reply from the chair of the assessments committee.

He stated that the matter had been investigated and that no discrepancies in marking had been found. He suggested that as I had reached the required standard for progression to year 5, I should reflect and move on which is fair enough. Apart from the outcome, I'm pleased with the response. I couldn't have expected much more, it is a case of my story against the examiners and obviously his carries more weight in that he is the senior and I'm the student being assessed so am potentially biased towards myself.

I continue to feel an injustice has been done but there is little more I can do. I did suggest that the mark in question should be excluded from my grade which wouldn't change it overall but would be a moral victory for myself. We'll have to see what happens with that. I'm still offended about what the examiner wrote as feedback on my form. I remain oblivious as to how I could have improved for that station, and for that reason I've asked permission to speak to the examiner in question about my performance in that station (opinions on whether or not that is a good idea are welcome in comments?) and how the station should be performed. This was originally suggested to me by a member of staff.

I wonder if I'd be allowed a chaperone for my finals. :D

Anyway, poo to that!


missbliss said...


Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, I was with my boss today when he received a call from the medical school regarding the huge number of appeals against exam marks from students who've passed (he's head of 4th year).

Obviously students are aware they're being ranked against each other, so instead of being happy to have passed, they're filing complaints and appeals all over the place.

The university realise it's not a pleasant experience to be ranked against your peers, but they also don't have the capacity to deal with a huge number of unnecessary complaints and appeals from students who've passed the year.

the little medic said...

anon - not more manc people reading! I don't even know who head of 4th year is!!! They're not named on anything i've seen, including the website...or are they?

It is nothing to do with my academic ranking (although i'm pissed because it will affect it) I wouldn't care if they exlcuded that mark from my results and gave me exactly the same percentage. Its a matterof principle! I don't think my complaint was unnecessary, but I don't think that is what you were trying to suggest.

I have heard plenty of stories from people who've complained - many of whom are probably more concerned about academic ranking than anything else. Whist it is something i'm bothered about, my appeal isn't about that.

Besides, I barely even care about my academic ranking now because i'm so disillusioned!

UK bioscience dude said...

Not surprised to hear the outcome, LM. Think moving on is the move. Enjoy the South Seas and look forward etc etc. You can expend a great deal of time and emotion in life on feeling that you have been unfairly shafted, and you never get the time back that you burn up thinking about it, and thinking about it, and thinking about it some more. On balance, it ain't worth it. Full retrospectoscope there.

There are a few specific exceptions where things are worth a challenge:
- if you are 100% sure you were done (and I mean Chris Tarrant really really really "sure", not "think") AND your future is on the line;
- if you are sure (see above) AND the same thing is likely to happen to you in the future at the hands of the same person;
- if you are sure AND it is something that will happen unjustly to lots of other people just the same way.

Though it may feel unfair, the med schools (and a lot of senior doctors I know) would tend to the view that learning when to let it go is important too.

Re. seeking feedback on the OSCE station, the diplomatic way to do it, I would suggest (though you might not like this), would be to say you accept the mark but ask to speak to the "training" examiner (the senior one for that station, who hopefully wouldn't be the one who marked you), about how the station should be done. That way you would get some feedback and it wouldn't have any overtones of "confrontation".

Re anon's post about students and querying marks, sounds all too plausible. I thought most med schools had gone over to Pass/Fail (and perhaps "good" "hons" "distinction", or variations thereof) precisely to avoid falling into just this thing of med students' semi-pathological competitive urges. Another thing people gradually learn is that being a good lawyer / doctor / lecturer is really NOT about "competing" with the others for odd percentage points - more about you doing the job well and seeing clearly how you can improve. Sorry, coming over all Atul Gawande here. But I think students chronically overestimate the importance of academic "gold stars" from their Univ years.

One of my wiser now-consultant physician buddies used to say that looking back there were two parallel processes in operation at med school. One was passing the course; the other was learning to be ready to be a doctor the August after you graduate . These processes co-existed, and students always focussed obsessively on the first one - fairly understandably given the regular exam hoop-jumping. But the other process was what really mattered.

Sorry, reading that last bit it's another dose of sub Atul Gawande. I'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that LM, I guess a response is better than nothing though. I am curious though, why do med schools rank their students? And is that true across the board?

Bah I hate competition, it sucks the fun out of everything.

the little medic said...

the reason we're ranked is for our foundation application. Every med school must do it. We're ranked into quartiles which make up a certain percentage of our foundation application. Roughly 50% of it. Harry by the time you get there, there may be a different way of doing it like a countrywide graduation exam or something similar. bioscience dude before we were told our ranking would matter, competetiveness was there but it wasn't too prominant. Now everyone is obsessed with it which is fair enough as it is actually quite important.

Hammerhead said...

medicine is a long journey...don't fight every battle that comes your way, only those that matter..

kelly said...

Wise words there from hammerhead. I personally think that it is time to move on and look to the future. You've made your point and although the outcome wasn't ideal it was predictable. On reflection I don't think it was likely the appeal would be upheld, especially as the examiner (boo hiss!) is a senior bod. That said, I would have felt equally aggrieved and felt it important to appeal to the med school about it. And who knows - maybe other students have had similar experiences with this examiner in various exams and if enough people complain then it will force the med school to take action in the future. No help to you though but at least you will have done some good for future generations of med students!

Time to enjoy your jaunts around the world with missbliss and getting through final year :-)

UK bioscience dude said...

Didn't know ranking thru Uni was now part of the Foundation selection process, LM. How very tiresome.

Academia and research has a ot of downsides, but one thing you CAN say for it is that no-one really gives a stuff what degree class you got. Getting a PhD makes your Bachelor degree class obsolete, in effect. And getting a job in science depends largely on whether your published papers are any good, not on who you did your PhD for.

The basic principle being that the latest "assessment" tells you more than something years back, and that "what you can actually do" is more important than "how good you were at exam-passing".

I assume from what you say that this "grading" that will influence your Foundation is made up of grades throughout medical school? Or just yrs 3 and 4?

And of course everyone graduation will get a Foundation place - isn't that right ? So it would just influence how likely you are to get the particular one you put as 1st choice?

One of things I dislike about the reorganised UK training is that it is effectively making people pick what they are interested in far too early. One of the truisms of most jobs is that you can't really tell if it's what you want to do until you have tried doing it - true for most people at least.

Personally I would trust my GP more if s/he had done several yrs hospital medicine before deciding to be a GP, but may be that's just me. And I would equally have thought it was a plus if my
gastroenterologist had done plenty of general medicine. The thought that both of these are going to be less likely makes me nervous.

The US system, of course, does "funnel" ex-students rapidly into residency programmes... but the subdivisions are not always as specialized as the UK specialties, as I understand it. And the students are of course typically 26-30 when they graduate and have spent a full 4 yrs training in hospitals, so they would be expected to have clearer ideas where they want to go.

the little medic said...

uk bioscience dude - "Didn't know ranking thru Uni was now part of the Foundation selection process, LM. How very tiresome."

Tell me about it! I mean as if medical school wasn't competative enough! It happened beacuse at first (before stuednts were ranked) students complained that their jobs were based on a single application form. They changed it for the following year and made it so 50-60% of the application form was based on whether you were in the top 1/4, 2/4 etc etc. Students complained that too much weighting was now on the academic side.

Hopefully for our year, it will be between the twon extremes at about 30% academic 70$ application form.

We don't yet know what they are going to use for our ranking, an annoucement is expected soon. (nice of them to tell us before we sat the exams eh?) It won't be 1st and 2nd year because they don't have complete data. Last year they used 3rd and 4th year exams. This year it will be the same with or without SSCs, I'm hoping they include SSCs becuase that will boost me up a whole quartile. OSCEs are worth more than the progress test by a ratio of 3:2 (if ssc's are included they'll be last in a ratio of 3:2:1) (I'm sure i'll be making a huge post about this when we eventually find out)

During our application we must rank all the foudnation schools in the country and are then matched accordingly depending on our scores(made up of academic ranking and application form score) and the number of people applying to each foundation school. Then we have to apply within that school for individual posts which again will probably be given out based on our scores.

This is a really shabby comment cos I wrote it in a huge rush, I hope you understand it. I might be going to a meeting tomorrow about foundation applications in which case I might do a whole post on the process.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE request a chaperone for his station in your finals. It will be so funny for the rest of us!

the little medic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
j00ni said...

I think you should go to the examiner in question and approach it as a teaching experience.

If you approach it with the attitude that you accept your mark, but want to better yourself the examiner is less likely to be defensive about it, and will probably give you feedback on how you performed (if indeed he remembers you).

At least this way you can get some feedback directly from him

the little medic said...

j00ni - That is exactly what I'm going to do. I think.

Anonymous said...

Bit of a rant maybe. Perhaps wise to count to ten and calm down before meeting him. Unfortunately the world of blogging can come back an bite you in a place that if I type this comment will be barred.

Also the kittens are cute but, given time, will inevitably turn into cats. Fate has a wicked hand, and cats are its warriors.

dr_dyb said...

Surely though you have very little chance of meeting the same OSCE examiner, given the vast range of assesment centres, topics/examinations/scenarios and examiners involved.

My advice would be to take on board what the assessment chair has said and roll with it, have a good summer and come back refreshed for autumn. Dragging this out will just build up frustration in yourself, uni admin, and the academic staff.

If it is the worst that happens to you (i.e. a bad mark which doesn't affect your progression) in med school, then you got off lightly in many ways!

Have a good summer, and spare a though for those of us on elective and doing resits simultaneously, at different hospitals.

Ms Medic said...

If it makes you feel better, I did 3rd year clinics before my BSc and then found out during BSc that it's my 3rd year quartiles that go on my Foundation application. So, this year I am top quartile, but my foundation ranking will be 50-75. Bugger! 4th year sucks.

the little medic said...

dr dyb - "Surely though you have very little chance of meeting the same OSCE examiner, given the vast range of assesment centres, topics/examinations/scenarios and examiners involved."

Sadly not, my 'centre' which is effectively my hospital use the same consultants over and over, usually the ones we've had firms with. (which has the potential to be extremely unfair and has been in the past for other people I know)

It is an almost certainty that the same examiner will beon finals next year, especially as he did them this year.

the little medic said...

ms medic - that sucks! stupid quartiles! grrr.

LondonMedicGirl said...

Personally, I find the most frustrating thing about the whole situation is that ones academic ranking within your medical school is assumed to equate across the country... Which I highly doubt it does.
Medical schools are equal but some are more equal than others.

And also, the difference between being in the top quartile and the bottom (which will make a massive difference in the likelyhood of getting the F1 job you want) is probably a difference in grade of about 10% maximum.