MD4 report 2017- Tom Condon 4th Year Representative
2017 has been a year of transition for 4th years as it has been for the whole course with much changing again next year to bring the entire program into line with programmatic assessment.
2017 marks the first year where students graduate having done 4 years of advanced studies and the first year of capstone (which is a fancy word for the final term of advanced studies). For the whole most people were able to complete their advanced studies project or at least demonstrate they produced an assessable outcome piece however several students needed to remediate doing an evidence based medicine project and an audit in the second half of the year. There was some concern regarding standardisation of the marks for advanced studies between assessors however the marks on the whole were quite high (but lacked much spread) and I anticipate that assessment for advanced studies will continue to be an issue for future cohorts in terms of validity and meaningfulness.
Feedback has been a continual problem for 4th years with the forms that get submitted for our term assessments being confidential and contact only made if borderline or failed. Many students complained that the feedback given at the end of the term was either non-existent or fairly superficial/rushed. Whilst we understand there will always be variability in the clinical environment we do think students deserve to be able to see how they are marked and to get meaningful feedback.
2018 MD4 program appears to have several changes proposed most notably the progress tests with MD4’s required to do at least 2 of these in 2018 (out of 4 total). Elective terms and holiday term appear unchanged at this stage which will be a relief to many students. There was talk of introducing a year 4 OSCE but I can say that there will be no OSCE in 2018 at least. The other notable change will be doing away with the current term assessment forms and introducing GAP assessment which is more multifaceted and includes a meeting to discuss performance on the wards as well as progress tests, advanced studies and other parts of the curriculum. I am told that the GAP assessments whilst new to year 4 are not new to the year 4’s of 2018 who should be familiar which brings year 4 into line with the rest of the course.
Internship offers are currently out however many local students still do not have a job, we have been assured by SAIMET that this is normal for this time of year and they are guaranteeing a spot for all local graduates which we intend ensure happens. Needless to say this creates some anxiety amongst 4th years whom are still in limbo despite these reassurances. There is much background talk about introducing merit based internship however at this stage there is no consensus of how this would look or when it will arrive and will certainly not affect the 2017 cohort.
Entering our final term of our degree many of us are keenly anticipating the next major leap in our careers to finally graduating and becoming doctors. I can say to all other year levels that despite the stress regarding changing curriculum and uncertainty, that medical students are exceptional people and I have all the confidence that no matter the precise route you take that you will make it work because you are hardworking and very intelligent people. I have enjoyed my 4 years as a Flinders Medical Student and 4 years working on the FMSS committee and I wish everyone all the best going forward for 2018.