Medical entry test under scrutiny

 

Sir, – Dr Siún O’Flynn of the medical faculty of University College Cork, speaking of the Australian HPAT test used in selection for Irish medical courses, tells us that it is important “that every candidate gets an equal chance”(“Medical entry test under investigation”, Front Page, March 10th).

The Australian company MedEntry charges Irish young people €595 for a two-day course on the “strategies necessary to solve the problems in HPAT”.

Is it the opinion of Irish universities that young people who cannot afford fees such as those charged by MedEntry get an equal chance of selection for medicine? – Yours, etc,

SEÁN McDONAGH,

Bettyglen,

Raheny,

Dublin 5.

Sir, – The medical schools unanimously opposed the introduction of the Health Professions Admission (HPAT). I attended the meeting with the “expert group”. We were told that the then minister wanted the HPAT introduced, irrespective of our views, and if we did not comply then the funding to our schools would be cut. It is clear that one can be coached for an aptitude test, hence the establishment of grind schools in Dublin and elsewhere. As these schools are expensive they act as a further stimulus to excluding students from deprived backgrounds from entering medical school.

May I also stress that the number of medical students is not controlled by the medical profession. The number of medical students in Ireland is strictly controlled by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). In my experience all doctors have pressurised the Government and HEA to increase the numbers of medical students.

Sadly, having helped to enact the Fottrell report and increase the number of medical students in Ireland, we are now in a situation where over 30 per cent of hospital doctors have not received their undergraduate training in an Irish medical school and doctors continue to emigrate at an alarming rate. – Yours, etc,

SHAUN R McCANN, FTCD

Professor Emeritus

of Haematology

and Academic Medicine,

St James’s Hospital

and Trinity College Dublin,

Dublin 2.