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The review follows from a discussion at the Medical Intern Board in January, where independent Chair Dr John Jenkins noted that “consistency in application of the guidelines is required and suggested that if a review of the guidelines was considered necessary, a request would need to be made to NDTP [National Doctors Training and Planning]”, according to minutes accessed by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.
His comments followed a “brief overview” by Dr Sara McAleese from the HSE’s NDTP unit on the current guidelines for centile calculation provided to each medical school in advance of final-year exams.
During the discussion, Prof Patrick Murray, the then Chair of the Irish Medical Schools Council, said “not everyone re-sits their final medical exams under the same circumstances”, while Dr Paula O’Leary of the Intern Network Executive stated that “the centile guidelines run contrary to the universities’ policy on mitigating circumstances”.
Prof Eilis McGovern, the then Director of the NDTP, pointed out that the “intern match is an international competition and transparent processes are required”. She noted that “there will always be students who have reasons for not sitting their exams in the first sitting but that HBS Recruit require a centile that compares each candidate to their respective class rank. This is why they are returned with a centile of 1. To return them with a centile other than 1 would not be fair to their classmates who sat their exams at the first sitting.”
A HSE spokesperson told MI: “The MIU, as a result of the Board meeting, is carrying out a review of the centile rankings with all medical schools, and an international review, as part of a quality improvement project.”
Asked if there had been any complaints or challenges in recent years from students on this issue, the HSE’s spokesperson said, “there have been no complaints”.
“The centile review is being conducted by the Medical Intern Unit, therefore there will be no extra cost to the HSE,” the spokesperson added. “The centile review is part of a wider review of the intern year led by the Medical Intern Unit and overseen by the Medical Intern Board. The review is to benchmark with international standards of recruitment and allocation into intern year.”