When technology fails

There has been reporting in the mainstream media this week of Monday’s IT failure which led to approximately 1200 doctors sitting their basic training exam with the Royal Australian College of Physicians being shut down due to a technical fault.
 
The media is reporting that the cost of sitting the exam was $1,800. The flow on effect of the failure of the platform to enable the candidates to sit the exam however, goes far beyond the financial cost to the doctors. If the calls for reimbursement of the $1,800 fee is accepted, in reality this is likely to be of little consolation to those who have been affected by the failure of the platform resulting in the exam being aborted.
 
As those who work in the health industry know, College exams are a significant event in any doctor’s professional and personal life. Many doctors plan significant personal events, such as getting married or having a family, around these exams and passing these exams. Preparation for these exams occur over a lengthy period of time in the presence of the doctors being required to work long clinical hours in addition to spending significant time outside of this on study. The result of this can have an adverse effect on the doctor’s personal and professional life, their mental health as well as their professional and personal relationships. It is not common for doctors to have to sit these exams on more than one occasion as a result of the understandable stringent requirements placed on what Colleges determine to be an appropriate level of knowledge to result in a pass mark.
 
The requirement for this group of doctors to re-sit a paper based exam on 2 March 2018 has resulted in concerns about the mental health for the candidates in the immediate and the future, as well as the potential flow on effect that this may have on patient care. Whilst technology brings many advances to society this event is a reminder of the significant adverse effect it can have on individuals and more broadly, when it fails.

Post by Karen Kumar
 

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