Medical careers and admissions test

Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 01:09

Sir, – If the HPAT (Health Professions Admissions Test) was “originally introduced as a predictor of suitability for a career in medicine” (“Points for medicine fall sharply after test restructure”, Home News, August 18th), it must surely now be deemed a failure, and one which merely favours those who can afford expensive HPAT “grinds”.

Given that the Medical Council has recently told us that 10 per cent of our young medical graduates chose not to register or reregister as doctors in Ireland last year (some of whom have quit the profession entirely), and given our routine inability to properly staff our hospitals each July due to the exodus of newly minted doctors, is it not time that we dropped the emphasis on “suitability” for a medical career and replaced it with “sustainability” (identifying potential doctors who will actually stay and serve in our struggling system).

This might mean dropping the controversial screening test. But alternatively, why not utilise the HPAT as a “bargaining chip” and actually waive it for those would-be medical students here who have the necessary Leaving Certificate points and also commit to, say, a six-month stint in our emergency departments (or other areas of medical manpower shortage), with the usual (but hopefully evolving) terms, conditions, training and salaries to apply?

The net result of such a boost to our staffing numbers would undoubtedly transform our acute health service for the better, with remarkably little cost to the State.

Even more importantly, it would positively favour those who have that immeasurable but essential quality, a passion to care for their fellow citizens. – Yours, etc,

Dr CHRIS LUKE,

Consultant in

Emergency Medicine,

Mercy University Hospital,

Grenville Place,

Cork.