The third year of medical school came to a very abrupt halt yesterday. This whole Coronavirus crisis I know is having so many huge implications on so many things. It’s shocking how something so tiny and invisible can collapse every system that our world runs by. Being in medical school obviously created so many questions and worries for us about whether it’d be safe for us to keep going on our placements, whether our exams were going to be happening etc.
Yesterday an email came through from the medical school clarifying everything, cancelling the remaining part of third year, all our exams and automatically progressing us on to 4th year. The joy, the shock, the relief…I cannot describe!
Anyway, I’m getting so many questions about what exams got cancelled, whether we had exams earlier in the year, what placements we will have missed out on…so yet again, I’m at it with a clarifying post.
An Overview of Our Third Year Teaching
To start with I’ll tell you a bit about what third year normally like.
Here at Manchester, we have 5 placements over the course of third year in general Medicine and Surgery. Each student has a slightly different mix of specialties but to give you an idea mine were: Endocrine, Cardiology, Surgery, Respiratory, Renal. Over the weeks that we have these placements we are given online cases covering general medical conditions (asthma, bowel cancer, COPD, kidney disease etc.). In total we have 24 weeks of placement and 24 cases, so we have 1 case per week.
After the placements we have a 10 week research project to complete. Near the beginning of the year there was an application process in which we were able to select projects offered by doctors that suited our interests. The projects are based at a hospital or other clinical setting and require physical presence to collect data. Finally to finish off the year we have a 4 week “Student Selected Placement” where we are able to select a speciality of our choice and spend some time in there for career exploration.
Last week (13/03/20) we finished our 24 weeks of placement and all our cases. We were now due to have 2 weeks off before starting the project.
An Overview of Our Third Year Exams
We have 2 types of exams in 3rd year: the progress test, the OSCE. For those of you that don’t know what the Progress Test is, it is a multiple choice exam which all 5 years take twice a year. The idea is that as you progress through medical school, you’ll become more familiar with the paper and your score will improve. The progress test is summative, meaning it forms a percentage of our ranking score but we do not have to pass it to progress in third year. We did the first progress test in January and the second one was supposed to take place in May.
For the OSCEs we had a formative one in February and were due to have our final summative OSCE next week.
The Changes Due To The Coronavirus
Absolutely everything has been cancelled beyond the point where we are at now. So that’s the Research Project and our Student Selected Placement. In terms of exams, the summative OSCE and the 2nd progress test has also been cancelled. No face-to-face classes are taking place at the university so it wouldn’t be possible to sit exams no do an OSCE. In terms of the Research Project and the OSCE, they’re not going to be possible because the doctors that would have otherwise supervised our projects and examined us are clinicians and therefore need to prioritise patient care.
A mitigation has been submitted for our year to remove the Research Project and the Student Selected Placement as a requirement for the year. All year 3 students have been automatically progressed on to 4th year.
I’m wondering what all the other medical schools are doing…let me know in the comments…