No dependable alternative to MCQs
The editorial by Drs. Prabha Chandra and Sowmyashree (1) revisits the vexed problem of the best method of selection of post-graduate medical students. The problems they cite are true of the selection process for undergraduate students as well. There is no doubt that the recommendations in the Vision 2015 document of the Medical Council of India are unlikely to improve the situation. Unfortunately, this is true also of the recommendations made in the editorial.
The authors’ suggestions are:
- Use the marks obtained in the MBBS examinations. I have absolutely no doubt that this will become a major source of corruption. It is sad, but true, that many medical teachers are susceptible to bribes.
- Aptitude test. This has the same defects. You will suddenly find that the offspring of influential doctors, bureaucrats and politicians (the persons who are now paying capitation fees), will suddenly all develop the correct “aptitude.”
The methods used in other countries, cited by the authors, are premised on the existence of a more transparent, rights-based social system. In India, any system which depends on subjective elements like “aptitude” is prisoner to the persons who will administer these elements, and, alas, we cannot trust them. For the foreseeable future, the MCQ system, though it may not be good, is better than any other.
George Thomas, Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon, St. Isabel’s Hospital, Chennai. 600 004 INDIA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chandra PS, Sowmyashree. MCI’s VISION 2015 and PG medical selection: continuing to produce square pegs for round holes? Ind J Med Ethics 2012 Jan-Mar:9(1):7-9.