|This has been going on since 2002.
It is very fair though a bit tiring. You first have the skill tests and
then, on the basis of points you go on for the interview. You need to write
down the case notes as one would write in the clinic and dictate it for
Then you have basic surgical skills
assessment by suturing the dummies and then you have your biniocular vision
test. By the time you have your interview you may be tired but quite aquinted
with the interviewers.
Did they have to do these type of
interviews? NO ! it is very likely that if they had done them they wouldn't
have passed them !
Simply stupid !
Whether or not seniors had to undertake
these assessments is really quite irrelevant now.
The facts are that medical education
and career progression are changing rapidly and I certainly feel that interviews
alone do not always accurately identify the most suitable candidates.
I know of people who don't perform
particulary well at interview but are excellent at the job , and vice versa.
I'm pretty sure it's easier to fool the interview panel with the "correct"
answers, given some coaching, than it is to prove practical/technical skills.
Also, good binocular vision is more
important in ophthalmology than some other surgical specialities. Would
you want someone with poor/no stereopsis performing phaco on you?
Having seen some newly appointed
consultant ophthalmologists suspended from surgery and sent for additional
surgical training, I think it is better for all involved, especially the
aspiring ophth SHO, to possess some realistic idea of surgical potential
(or otherwise) earlier rather than later in their career so that alternative
pathways may be pursued before wasting too much time chasing dreams.
This is an inherent quoted benefit
and intention of FY and MMC.
I suspect that this very fair type
of assessment will become more prevalent and quickly too. If you really
can't stand the thought of them, maybe you should question why you feel
they are so pointless/stupid/inappropriate.
I hope it's not because you think
30 publications are a substitute for the ability to actually perform the
day to day job of a non-academic ophthalmologist adequately...
I agree with the SpR's and Hank's
comments. However, if the skills test involves examples of handwriting
and note dictation style, surely this is somewhat subjective! I imagine
it would be difficult to distinguish between most candidates. Is there
set criteria for judging handwriting?
Measuring binocular vision seems
a very sensible and long overdue test for ophthalmologists but at what
level should the pass/fail criteria be set at?
Treat them as dumb if you do not
want the post!
What Mike Nelson is up to is working
on a more objective assessment of generic skills than an interview can
As he is writing the MMC curriculum,
I expect that this is a pilot for how it will be for f2 posts applying
to train when they have no ophthalmic experience.
Trust Mike Nelson to have this inspired
idea! What a pity some of the current batch of consultants did not have
to go through the same thing!
-Bravo Mr Nelson-
I was not impressed by the system,
the panel or the department.
The tests of binocular vision and
manual dexterity are ideally done before your first job and not after you
have passed part 2. Are they going to ban you from ophthalmology if you
do not perform well on these tests?
Handwriting and dictation skills
can easily be faked at the interview. Real life performance in a stressful
clinic is a different task altogether. How about asking the referees about
this instead of wasting our time ?
Good communication skills are easily
learnt if taught well. I thought that was what good training was all about
! (This is a perfect skills test at consultant interviews). How many ophthalmology
SHOs or registrars were taught how to break bad news ? In some other specialties
SHOs sit in with consultants and learn the art through observation and
are sometimes even banned from doing it themselves until they are trained.
Many skills in communication and
operative procedures can be taught even to the least talented. While talent
helps, it is practice that makes perfect. However, analytic skills and
the use of logic and intellect are largely inherited. While good training
may be of some use, there is very little you can do about an ophthalmologist
who cannot think and act intelligently and I am sorry to say that I have
met quite a few of these in my short career. None of these skills were
tested. In fact at the interview any academic interest was down played,
frowned upon and even discouraged. I suppose on that occassion the candidate
was pre-selected and clearly did not have the achievements of any of the
other SHOs and that might explain that attitude.
These are signs of new trends in
the NHS: thinking is harmful to the organization because it may provoke
rebellion, manual dexterity is good because you are going to be a high
turn over catarct surgeon, etc, etc, etc.
My overall impression was that mediocrity
wins and in this context academic achievements are meaningless and might
even go against you. Your personality is vital as that determines whether
you will fit in with this all too familiar team. So, visit the department,
meet the rest of the team and be really, really, really nice (most peoplae
are quite nice so you have to be better than them). This works wonders
if you want the job.
Was that my rude awakening to the
new era or is it mere sour grapes ?