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Medical education (Part 3)


Medical education (Part 2)
David Weatherall Scientist
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I was really put off by the, my first experience being asked to say something that was controversial, so they asked me to do, on assessment of medical, both students and post-graduates and examinations, and I’ve always felt that this country is obsessed with examinations, and degrees, and it’s one of the reasons why it’s not easy to train young doctors who have a bent for research, because the first kind of 15 years after your qualification is one long examination. But I got into deep trouble with this paper, because, in fact I nearly got thrown out of the Royal College of Physicians, because I was just pointing out to them that the, these examinations are totally artificial, a lot of these post-graduate examinations, and the thing I said, which was I suppose in retrospect, a bit bitchy and a bit stupid, was that if you visit Regents Park Zoo, you see biological diversity in all its wonder, really, but if you happen to turn right when you enter Regents Park, into the Royal Collect of Physicians, biological diversity ceases because the pass rate in the membership examination only varies within less than 1% every year. Boy, they were furious. Oh, they were. But, they let themselves down because they wrote to me and said, we have to keep it tight so we don’t train too many physicians, so the young people they were telling, if they were good enough they would pass, that was patently not true, it was just a competitive thing. That’s a bit trivial, but, but I think we do have major problems with medical education, and at the moment, when the government have taken over post-graduate education, and are having a good bash to take over the lot, even more problems, because one of my great trials during running departments, and particularly the Department of Medicine, was actually protecting, or trying to protect, those very talented small number, who you could see straight away really had it in them to be good clinical scientists, from this kind of numbing system, and you could do it really, certainly in the '60s, '70s, and- but it’s gradually got more and more difficult as the whole thing has become more oppressive.

British Scientist Sir David Weatherall (1933-2018) was a world renowned expert on blood diseases, in particular thalassaemias, and used his expertise to help control and prevent these diseases in developing countries. He founded the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford in 1989 and was knighted in 1987.

Listeners: Marcus Pembrey

Marcus Pembrey, now Emeritus, was Professor of Paediatric Genetics at the Institute of Child Health, University College London and consultant clinical geneticist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children London. He is a visiting Professor at the University of Bristol UK, where he was the Director of Genetics within the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children until 2006. A past president of the European Society of Human Genetics, he is also the founding Chairman of the Progress Educational Trust.

Duration: 2 minutes, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2007

Date story went live: 02 June 2008