WHAT options do medical students have when they fail repeatedly in their final year examinations?
Should they decide to leave the medical course out of frustration and disappointment, they would leave with the SPM or STPM certificate they started with.
And that would be after completing more than seven years of gruelling medical studies and spending a few hundred thousand ringgit on tuition fees, books, medical equipment, accommodation, food, transport and other expenses.
Local private medical colleges set strict entry conditions for medical students, unlike some foreign medical colleges.
Only the cream of the crop are accepted. At the end of the one-year foundation course, students who get through proceed to do their medical programme in their local private medical college.
For four to five years, the medical students are put through a meticulous and rigorous schedule of lectures and periodic theoretical tests, examinations and practical clinical procedures in government hospitals every semester from the second year of their studies.
Students who do not make the grade in the formative years are made to repeat the semester until they meet the criteria set by the respective private medical schools.
Students who make it to the final year have a final examination which has a theoretical component and a practical (short and long case) clinical component in a hospital.
The students have to pass the final examination to graduate with the medical degree. Those who fail will have to sit for a referral examination.
Students who do not pass the repeat examinations after two or three attempts have to appeal through their medical college to the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) for another chance to do the final examination.
My son failed his final year examinations three times in a local private medical college. He has appealed to the MMC to do it for the fourth time.
In the second and third attempt he failed in his clinical examination. In both attempts, he was a borderline case and went for his viva but was unsuccessful in both attempts. He is severely devastated and seriously affected by not passing the final examination. The student who fails to make the grade in his fifth and final year is 80% to 90 % a doctor, what more if he has gone through the examination two to three times.
Why fail him repeatedly in his final examinations unless he has serious personal problems like poor attendance or disciplinary issues?
Each time he fails, he has to pay a substantial sum to repeat and spend six months doing the clinical component before the examination.
If he is weak in his clinical component, then his housemanship in the hospital could be extended.
After all, the housemen practice for new medical doctors is a familiarisation exercise for the freshmen with the hospitals and medical procedures.
The housemen are fully supervised by senior doctors during their two-year stint. If a medical student shows no flair for medicine, fail him in his foundation or the first or second year but to fail him repeatedly in his final year is a grave injustice.