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Students frustrated by academic intern track programme delay

By Paul Mulholland and Catherine Reilly - 19th Apr 2024

The HSE has confirmed all the planned posts for the academic intern track programme will be made available, following concerns raised by students, but has yet to provide a date when results will be issued.

The Medical Independent (MI) has been contacted by students frustrated about the delay in the issuing of results and the lack of information from the HSE National Recruitment Service (NRS) regarding the process.

Students had been told originally that the results would be issued in March. One of the advertised benefits of the programme is that the issuing of results at this time allowed for advanced job offers.

Comments received by MI include:

  • “The delay is a massive distraction from final exams which are taking place in the next two weeks.”
  • “A lot of time and energy went into preparing our applications and interviews, and it feels like that effort is being ignored.”
  • “The HSE does not accept late applications under any circumstances, but candidates are being forced to wait over a month for results that feel like they are never going to come.”
  • “I think candidates are losing confidence in the process, as well as the programme itself.”
  • “A very poor reflection of a health system that is trying to retain young doctors. Candidates deserve better.”
  • “The worst part is the complete lack of explanation; if we felt included in the process it would help.”

The programme provides a number of interns with opportunities to undertake clinical research, gain experience in medical education, or enhance their leadership and management skills. In 2023, due to the success of the programme, places doubled from 24 to 48.

The HSE confirmed to MI the 48 posts will go ahead as planned, and that results would be issued “in the coming weeks”.

“They will be issued prior to all other intern posts in line with normal practice,” according to the spokesperson.

The HSE NRS has also written to students about their concerns.

“We understand that there are a significant number of you who have concerns regarding academic intern track interview results, including the availability of posts”, according to the communication, sent on 17 April, seen by MI.

“We wish to allay these concerns as we can assure you that all the posts remain available. Results have been collated and will be issued as soon as possible.

“You will receive communications by both email and text to advise when the results are issued and, given the time of year, we will ensure there is sufficient time for candidates to accept posts where offered.”

The communication acknowledges there has been a “significant wait” for students to receive results.

“However, we assure you that there is no reason for candidates to be concerned about this delay.”

Last month, MI reported that Intern Networks have expressed concern over the “inadequate” level of funding to support the programme.

The current HSE funding contribution to the programme is approximately €600,000 per annum. This contribution covers the salaries required for 48 posts; a 50 per cent contribution to the academic track bursary; and funding for the delivery of the programme.

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