Liam Farrell: Aptitude tests have me testing my patience

Recently I was critical of the aptitude tests, which are now a pre-requisite for entry to medical school.

However, I've matured since; it takes a big man to admit he's wrong, and I'm quite enormous.

I realise now that I was being a bit hasty. I also appreciate that these tests can be used to assess potential students for the intangible quality of empathy, though in our case empathy is a flexible virtue, including, for example, the ability to sign sick certificates on minimal evidence with no wider social conscience or sense of fiscal responsibility.

Along with this Damascean conversion came the awareness of how unfair it is that only our future doctors should be lucky enough to enjoy an aptitude test; our future patients are being unfairly disadvantaged and should also be given the opportunity.

And there's an angle for me as well; I am by nature jealous. You and I know that any Dr Tom, Dr Dick, or money-grabbing Dr Harry can set up on Harley Street; it's no guarantor of medical excellence.

But we have to admit that the address carries a certain cachet, probably attracts a better class of patient and keeps out the riffraff.

So not only will the patients enjoy an aptitude test, I can also use it to weed out future undesirables. There is little I can do about the undesirables I already have; I can only wait for natural wastage, for example, emigration, death or barnyard accidents. Anyway, over the years I've become rather fond of them, I'm just a big softy.

The test will consist of only two questions;

1. Spot the O: pppppppppppopppppp

The right kind of person is more likely to get the correct answer.

2. If you have an awful cold, do you want (a) a strong antibiotic, or (b) a weak antibiotic?

This is a trick question; the NHS has spent millions explaining that antibiotics don't help the common cold, so any answer will immediately disqualify, just to prove that those millions haven't been wasted.

And if anyone complains, they'll get disqualified as well.


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