Fourth-year medical students across Canada are reporting stress and "agony" as the major standardized test that marks their transition from med school to residency has faced technical and communication problems.
The nine-hour Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part 1 made a major shift to online testing with remote supervision through virtual proctors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there have been a series of system failures during the first month of exams.
More than 7,000 people have registered to take the test between June and September, according to the Medical Council of Canada (MCC). About a third of them are set to writethe exam remotely. It's administered by Prometric, a U.S. company.
Some medical students only agreed to speak to CBCNews on the condition of anonymity because they feared professional repercussions for speaking out against the MCC, their accrediting body.
One Ontario-based medical student saidshe was repeatedly kicked out of the online exam and struggled to be readmitted.
"I felt like it wasn't testing our knowledge, it was testing our endurance to deal with technical issues," she said.
The student said she had issues getting a Prometric security representative on video call to check her room for banned items a requirement to write the test which forced her to quit the exam and re-enter twice before she even got started. It then got worse.
"I was kicked out of the exam six times," she said. "I honestly felt like no one was on my side."
She said she rushed through her answers because she feared being forced to rebook the $1,300, day-long test at a later dateand having the qualifying exam the culmination of years of study hanging over her head for much longer.
"I'd spent so much time studying for this exam, and the exam was not even representative of how much time I studied because I was just rushing through to try to click as fast as I could," the studentsaid.
Another Ontario medical student also told CBC that his systemcrashed before he submitted the exam. This was after his virtual proctor warned the studentthat he could no longer see or hear him through his computer.
"I knew I would've had two hours remaining. Because of the system crash, that time was taken away from me," he said.
"There's no way to describe this exam as standardized or fair by any means."
Dr. Valerie Lavigne, a fourth-year student atMcGillUniversity in Montreal, said she was only able to sign up for overnight exams with start times of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. because she required special accommodation.
Lavigne is pregnant and was entitled to extra bathroom breaks. Although she was eventually able to rebook her test during the daytime, she calledthe situation "stressful."
Dr. Adrianna Gunton, a student at the University of Sasktchewanin Saskatoon, had moved back to Kamloops, B.C., due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. She said she would haverather writtenthe test at an in-person test centre, but there were none nearby.
Gunton said no proctor was monitoring her progress during the test.
"I was just concerned that my exam would be void if I didn't have a live proctor watching me the whole time," she said.
She tried to contact Prometric during her lunch break, but it was unable to reach her proctor. So Gunton said that after her break,she redid the security check for the camera by herself, but she still doesn't know whether the lack of supervision means her test is invalid.
"For me, that's almost two weeks sitting in agony wondering about this exam, if it's going to count."
More than 2,000 people have now joined a closed Facebook group to share their frustrations about the examand pass on tips abouthow to avoid technical issues.
The MCC said about 300 students who haveso far taken the test remotely have raised issues ranging from difficulty starting the exam at home tosystem failures. Almost 1,200 remote tests have been administered.
Dr. Rishi Sharma, education director ofthe Canadian Federation of Medical Students, said students are frustrated.
"We're kind of in limbo and we don't have much support," Sharma said. He managed to take the test without incident last week, but he chalks that up to luck.
WATCH: The director's perspective
"This is an exam that runs roughly eight to nine hours, so having gone through that much time and effort, to have all of that crash and to have to reschedule that exam is unfair," Sharma said.
He said the MCC and Prometric have been pointing the finger at each other, with students caught in the middle.
"Students largely want the MCC to be accountable for these issues and compensate students because we're not typically writing the examination as it normally would," he said.
In a written response to CBC's questions, the MCC said the problems with remote exams have been "unacceptable," and it is working every day to improve the situation.
"We are meeting twice daily with Prometric senior executives to develop solutions to all reported issues, in particular those related to test accommodations, hardware compatibility, proctor responsiveness and connectivity before and during the exam," Dr. Maureen Topps, the council's executive director and CEO, said in the statement.
The MCC said candidates writing at test centres are using the same interface as people takingthe examat home and it's the same system that was used last year.
In a statement, Prometric, the U.S. testing company, blamed the bulk of the issues on internet connectivity, especially when both the med student and the remote proctor are using home wireless connections.
"The MCCQE Part 1 is the first full-day (nine-hour) professional health-care assessment program to utilize an online remote assessment platform. There is inevitably risk that accompanies innovation of new solutions," the statement said.
Prometric has set up a toll-free helpline to assist students and isworking on reopening additional in-person testing locations across Canada.
See the rest here:
- A bill would spend $1 billion on diversifying medical schools to close the racial health gap - NBC News - August 10th, 2020
- Pandemic acts as dress rehearsal for new medical school curriculum - Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis - August 10th, 2020
- The Unnamed Hero - Pager Publications, Inc. - August 10th, 2020
- Testing is the key to a successful fall reopening on campuses (opinion) - Inside Higher Ed - August 10th, 2020
- TUNE IN: Alexandria Addressing Back-to-School Worries in Virtual Town Hall - The Zebra - August 10th, 2020
- Community Healthcare honored during National Health Center Week - Times Record News - August 10th, 2020
- When Things Arent OK With a Childs Mental Health - The New York Times - August 10th, 2020
- Making sure patients, physicians know about the advances in treating female cancers - Norton Healthcare - August 10th, 2020
- 'We Are Here to Help Them' | Harvard Medical School - Harvard Medical School - August 10th, 2020
- In the face of challenges posed by a pandemic and racism, the White Coat Ceremony underscores the importance of our shared humanity - AAMC - August 10th, 2020
- Physician Group Wants Medical Schools To Waive The MCAT This Year - Physicians News Digest - August 10th, 2020
- Born with 1 hand, she's an inspiration in virus fight - ABC News - August 10th, 2020
- What to Expect in Medical School - AAMC for Students ... - August 8th, 2020
- International med students ease the path for others with new mentor group - STAT - August 8th, 2020
- Texas schools reopening mandate sets off another local control debate - The Texas Tribune - August 8th, 2020
- Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Morehouse School of Medicine Welcomes Its... - Diverse: Issues in Higher Education - August 8th, 2020
- Guntersville native joins Andrews Sports med team | Free Share - Sand Mountain Reporter - August 8th, 2020
- COVID-19 changing study of medicine on Long Island - Newsday - August 8th, 2020
- Health Care Workers Of Color Nearly Twice As Likely As Whites To Get COVID-19 - WUSF News - August 8th, 2020
- Dancing Wildcats Enjoy Smoother Transition to the Field of Medicine - UKNow - August 8th, 2020
- Kindness is the best medicine - Argus Leader - August 8th, 2020
- Kindness is the best medicine | Coronavirus | rocketminer.com - Daily Rocket Miner - August 8th, 2020
- With academic health center, the imagined can be reality - Las Vegas Sun - August 8th, 2020
- Need to Take the MCAT? You'll Still Have to Do It in Person - The New York Times - August 8th, 2020
- Why isn't ventilation part of the conversation on reopening schools? - STAT - August 8th, 2020
- A UT undergrad helped build the app that will assist students coming back to school this fall. Here's what it can do. - UT News | The University of... - August 8th, 2020
- Med School Professor Removed from Fellowship Director Post, Apparently for Publishing Anti-Affirmative-Action Journal Article - Reason - August 7th, 2020
- Good Shepherd celebrates one of it's first graduates on track to realize dream of becoming doctor - WDSU New Orleans - August 7th, 2020
- Change the course of the pandemic: UMass Medical School, Boston tech company at center of national push to - MassLive.com - August 7th, 2020
- Duality Health Begins Rapid Blockchain Innovation Cycle with Health Product Innovation Team at Dell Medical School - Tyler Morning Telegraph - August 7th, 2020
- Deciding whether to send your child back to school? Heres what the experts say to consider - nj.com - August 7th, 2020
- Kaine introduces bill that would support medical schools in underserved areas - WDVM 25 - August 4th, 2020
- Medical school affiliates on lack of diversity, burden of the 'minority tax' - The Stanford Daily - August 4th, 2020
- International medical school graduates need an easier path to practice in the US | TheHill - The Hill - August 4th, 2020
- The 'dura mater' handles medical training and motherhood with aplomb - DePauw University - August 4th, 2020
- Emory University doctor and former teacher suggests staggered starts, plexiglass lunch barriers to avoid COVID-19 spread in schools - 11Alive.com WXIA - August 4th, 2020
- President Houshmand and CMSRU Dean Reboli named to South Jersey BIZ Power 50 list - Rowan Today - August 4th, 2020
- 'Its a good mix of medicine and social justice': Medical student gets experience at NATIVE Project during pandemic - The Spokesman-Review - August 4th, 2020
- Addressing inequalities in women's health research | Contemporary OB/GYN - Contemporary Obgyn - August 4th, 2020
- New medical residents experience a different kind of welcome into URMC - University of Rochester - August 4th, 2020
- 'Not surprising': International graduate students respond to short-lived ICE directive - The Stanford Daily - August 4th, 2020
- MASKED-COVID Study to Assess Renal-Related Complications of COVID-19 - DocWire News - August 4th, 2020
- Addressing inequalities in women's health research - Contemporary Obgyn - August 4th, 2020
- Seeing the Health Care Profession Through the Eyes of a Medical Scribe - Hamilton College News - August 4th, 2020
- University of Medicine and Health Sciences Launches State-of-the-Art Virtual Tour - PR Web - August 4th, 2020
- Researchers With Game - Ohio Wesleyan University - August 4th, 2020
- List of medical schools in the United States - Wikipedia - August 3rd, 2020
- Disc Medicine Expands Leadership Team with Industry Veterans to Advance Hepcidin Modulating Therapies Toward the Clinic - PRNewswire - August 3rd, 2020
- Solomon Rajput '14 takes on Michigan incumbent for seat in Congress - The Dartmouth - August 3rd, 2020
- Fighting the Coronavirus, from New York to Utah - The New Yorker - August 3rd, 2020
- Boston doctor named hospital hero relied on human connection to get through COVID peak - Boston Herald - August 3rd, 2020
- Starkman: Beaumont Executive Paid $932000 by Hospital Vendor Whose Implants Were Pushed on Surgeons - Deadline Detroit - August 3rd, 2020
- Students need to be tested every 2-3 days for colleges to safely reopen - Yale News - August 3rd, 2020
- Taking Medicine and Tech to the Next Level: Ranney on New Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health - GoLocalProv - August 3rd, 2020
- Medical Schools Have Historically Been Wrong on Race - The New York Times - August 3rd, 2020
- After the Match: The Match in the Age of COVID-19 : Emergency Medicine News - LWW Journals - July 31st, 2020
- North Philly coronavirus risk: Temple University's return to campus is irresponsible - On top of Philly news - Billy Penn - July 31st, 2020
- Researchers Discover Stem Cells in Optic Nerve that Preserve Vision - Newswise - July 31st, 2020
- Pre-med students spend the summer studying COVID-19 - DePauw University - July 31st, 2020
- The Author of Blacks in Medicine on Race, Racism, and Health Outcomes - KCET - July 31st, 2020
- Five Questions With: Dr. Ben Abo on Snakes and Television - EMSWorld - July 31st, 2020
- We asked 20 medical experts whether they're sending their own kids back to school. Here's what they had to say - CNBC - July 31st, 2020
- NYU Long Island School of Medicine Is First School on Long Island to Start 202021 Term, May Be Microcosm of 'Hybrid' Class Model - NYU Langone Health - July 31st, 2020
- Medical education in the time of COVID-19 - Science Advances - July 31st, 2020
- Rutgers New Jersey Medical School - July 31st, 2020
- Discrimination in the medical curriculum: are medical schools providing students with equal access to the medical profession? - The European Sting - July 31st, 2020
- Marshall School of Medicine 1 of 9 schools to offer Mission Act scholarships to veterans - Huntington Herald Dispatch - July 30th, 2020
- Irish medical school students learning about Sarnia area - Sarnia and Lambton County This Week - July 30th, 2020
- Michigan Medicine named one of best 20 hospitals in U.S. News rankings - MLive.com - July 30th, 2020
- What Cuba Can Teach the U.S. About Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic - southseattleemerald.com - July 30th, 2020
- Stem Cell Therapy Injuries More Widespread Than We Knew - UConn Today - July 30th, 2020
- Want to be a doctor? A lawyer? COVID-19 cases are rising, but these high-stakes exams are in-person only - USA TODAY - July 29th, 2020
- Payne named associate dean for health information and data science Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis - Washington University... - July 29th, 2020
- Mind the Gap: A 20-Year-Old Black Medical Student Is Writing a Guide Illustrating How Common Medical Symptom - The Root - July 29th, 2020
- Elizabeth Williams Talks Healthcare With Her Series "E Talks With Docs" - Jul 28, 2020 - Sports Are From Venus - July 29th, 2020
- School of Medicine one of nine schools to offer Mission Act scholarships to veterans - HNN Huntingtonnews.net - July 29th, 2020
- News | From ESL to Medical School, RIC Grad Overcomes Obstacles in Pursuit of Her Dreams - Rhode Island College News - July 29th, 2020
- Med students make history in Clovis - The Business Journal - July 29th, 2020
- The Doctor Behind the Disputed Covid Data - The New York Times - July 29th, 2020
- Dr. Stella Immanuel: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know - Heavy.com - July 29th, 2020