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by reestheskin on 20/02/2021

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Academics are promoting the wrong kind of rigour | Times Higher Education (THE)

When I was teaching — and I taught a lot towards the end of my paid career — there were many opportunities to talk to medical students off the record. It takes time, and some trust from both parties, but many students know what talking off the record means. To my surprise — yes, I am that paranoid — some of the online feedback they provide is also informative. My favourite, was a comment about specialty X, saying that they were certain that the teaching would have been of a high standard if they had actually had any. If you scour the BMJ online responses for comments from students, you can find similar views.

For many students, undergraduate medicine resembles flying in the pre-Covid days: the journey’s end is worth it, but you have put up with all the crap that passing through airport security entails. There is just no other practical way to get from A to B. Getting uptight about it as you pass through may come back to bite you.

I think medicine is worse than many other degrees, but there is plenty of misery to go around. The following is from an article in the Times Higher:

Leaning forward, he takes a deep breath and says: “Well, it’s like we’re running some kind of gauntlet, course after course, semester after semester, one year to the next, working hard, but our real selves are asleep. ‘Get good grades, good internships. Do lots of activities. Build an impressive résumé.’ That’s all we hear. We’re so busy proving ourselves that there’s no time to breathe, let alone think or reflect, and the stuff we have to do for classes mostly feels meaningless — to me, anyway. So we just go to sleep to get through it and hope it’s all worth it when the grind is over.” 

But my student wonders out loud why learning in college must be a forced march and not a playful adventure — and I silently wonder the same about the process of tenure and promotion.