Monday, March 4, 2013


I don't know how most medical schools work, but here in Poland failing someone repeatedly is considered good for the educational process. I've actually had professors who were pissed off that everyone passed on the first go.

Of course this causes a bit of a problem. Most North American students aren't used to failing, and North American medical or even pre-med students really aren't used to failing at all! That's not to say that before coming to Poland I never failed anything, but here I seem to do it an awful lot. Guess what it sucks.

The funny thing is there is always a group of people who usually pass. And of course this makes the rest of us look terrible. For example, in our most recent block exam in patho out of forty-eight people only about  twelve passed. That's a 70% fail rate. If that were to happen in the U.S. or even in England I think the dean would be looking at firing someone, because there are only a few options.

  1. We're all stupid and need to quit now. 
  2. We're not being taught adequately. 
  3. The test is not over material being taught and is above and beyond the level of knowledge needed in real life situations.

I might be biased but I think that it's a mixture of #2 and #3, because I've read the big Robbins Patho book twice for one block exam and still failed twice (and reading that damn book is no small undertaking). As to why people can pass....I'm going to suggest that there are certain papers with certain answers to certain exams floating around amongst a certain subset of people (I'm not saying that some people pass on their own merit, we do have some extremely smart and likable people in my class!) Anyway, this post is not about the massive cheating that goes on here, this post is about retakes and actually trying to study.

So we have all of these retakes. Right now we're looking at about five retakes for one class. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons that allude me the first round of retakes for some of the blocks have been pushed off as have all of the others that should have been continuously scheduled through the year, and all of the retakes have to be completed and passed by the second weekend in April in order to take the final. This means that there is one block exam every week for the next month, not to mention retakes for the blocks that people fail for the second, third, or fourth time.

On top of all this we also have spring break plopped right in the middle of all of these retakes. And many people because we were told we'd have certain days off booked flights home or just made plans in general. Some people in the class are becoming very nasty about this, and want one of the retakes scheduled the day before we officially start break, which wouldn't be a problem, but they want the exam on a Monday two days after another retake and the last day before break starts- so naturally most people were just planning to skip that class and fly home to relax before they have to study for the step.  I can see how they want to get it out of the way, but people like me who have to take the other test are getting screwed because others want to get the exam over with quickly. Additionally, people paid a lot of money for plane tickets and I myself have to go to the airport to pick my Grandmother up on that day (she's 71 years old, and she's not taking a cab in Poland by herself!). The class representative is even in the midst of trying to move Monday classes, so we can have it off officially too.

Long story short, people are bashing and harassing people on facebook and "friends" are throwing friends under the bus. People who only have one retake exam are dictating the lives of those who have two or more retakes, just because they think they're better, or smarter, or whatever the hell they think they are- even though they have more time to study in general than a person who's taking more than one! I know one person said to another that they were stupid for wanting to go home, because they've failed so many block exams and they need to learn how to schedule studying appropriately. Even though the person who has to take the retakes, schedules studying better than anyone I know and needs to go home because she is so damn stressed out right now she might explode!

So what's the point of this post? Keep it civil people, conduct yourselves in a manner you'll be proud of when the darkness that shrouds second year lifts. In Poland just because a person has to do a retake does not make them stupid or any less of a good student. It's partly the bad scheduling of the tests, combined with bad teaching and test writing.

On a final note, I think it's funny when a person who has failed multiple times fails something people say it's because they're stupid. But when a person who usually always passes fails, it's the test or the professor.

All of the great people in history have failed at least once before they've succeeded, it takes failing to really learn who you are and what you know. 
                      But, it still stinks! 

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