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Dealing with Unhealthy Competition at Medical School

10 Feb 2021 0 comments

Competition can feel like an intrinsic part of life at UCLMS. From the beginning, and throughout, ideas that you must get certain grades, and be better than your peers are all around. They may not be prominent all the time but they feel pervasive. One of the earliest lectures I remember from first year had a major focus on the amazing professional and scientific achievements of past UCL medical students, and I was impressed. And then I thought: “How the hell am I supposed to match up to that?!” I found this event really helpful, not least because it gave a voice to a problem that it seems a lot of people have with the medical school environment: We are training for a career where collaboration is vital but the nature of exams, especially later on, can pit people against one another in unhealthy ways. The decile system is a good example of this. We are told that we are not here to compete with each other, and yet we can see how well we do academically relative to our entire cohort? I think it’s quite obvious from the above that I’m not the biggest fan of competition in this way. I definitely agree that some degree of friendly competition can be healthy; whether the level encouraged in medical school is right is another matter. Giving students the forum to discuss these issues and air their grievances is so important, and the event gave me hope for progress in how UCLMS fosters and deals with competition amongst its students.

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