Doctors and Race by Paul Walker

The latest big “race” fight is that the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, has been called “racist” for saying that certain foreign-trained doctors who failed its core exam to become emergency specialists, were under-skilled:

Here are the basic facts, as we quote from The Australian:

“In a letter to colleagues, obtained by The Australian, associate professor Bob Dunn writes that graduates from overseas medical schools were more likely to rely on rote learning, more likely to make potentially life-threateningly wrong decisions and needed “tough love” from teachers.
The Weekend Australian on Saturday revealed “non-white” registrar doctors in ACEM’s latest cohort — who made up over a quarter of students — had a clinical exam pass rate of about 6.8 per cent compared with 88 per cent for their Caucasian colleagues, sparking heated debate in the medical community.
Over 30 “non-white” doctors at the school have lodged a detailed complaint, alleging they have been the subject of “systemic racism” and have called for their marks to be adjusted.
But Dr Dunn, of Royal Adelaide Hospital, writes that a key problem facing graduates of overseas medical schools was a lack of “specialist level knowledge”, with communication issues based around English proficiency also a problem, but less so than commonly thought.
Foreign-trained doctors were more likely to rely on rote learning and memorise answer “templates” and apply them to every situation, which meant they often only performed well when “they have dealt with that exact situation before”.
“This may be a language issue such as failing to recognise subtle differences in meaning ... or may be due to the methods used in their basic medical training,” Dr Dunn writes.
Particularly troublesome were specialist trainees who had inadequate skills but did not realise it, who “barrel on confidently with the wrong diagnosis, treatment and make errors that will harm patients”.
“They need to be brought back to earth very clearly,” Dr Dunn writes. Dr Dunn declined to comment and his office directed The Australian to the ACEM.
ACEM president Professor Anthony Lawler said the college was addressing the allegations, which it took seriously, but the matters raised were complex and “making rushed announcements would benefit no one.”

Clearly, it is not racist, at least, not yet, to fail students who do not perform adequately. If they all happen to be of one race – be that black, brown or white – that is just too bad. The safety of patients must prevail over political correctness. Fortunately, the doctors involved have taken a stand based on principle, so more strength to them.



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Friday, 18 September 2020
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