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TCD and bias towards North Americans

Discussion in 'UK & Ireland' started by PTgirl, May 8, 2007.

  1. PTgirl

    PTgirl 2+ Year Member

    Apr 26, 2007
    Is it true that profs at Trinity treat international/North American students unfairly?

    Anyone from Trinity on this site to confirm or deny?
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  3. cheezer

    cheezer Guest

    I'd like to know too, particularly since I've combed through all the uk/ireland posts and leorl has gone from overwhelmingly positive to, "final year sucks." What happened final year? It's like a book without an ending. I won't be applying for awhile but I'd still like to know.
  4. Me an MD??

    Me an MD?? Junior Member 2+ Year Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    London On.t
    I may only be in 1st year but i havent seen anything like that yet. The profs seem to treat everyone the same so far. I bet its more to do with consultants in the hospital than anything.
  5. Trinners

    Trinners Universitas Dubliniensis 10+ Year Member

    May 27, 2002
    Dublin, Ireland
    I'm Irish and I've just finished Final Med in Trinity. I have to disagree that the consultants/faculty treat the international students in the class unfairly. Examination papers are marked anonymously and the examiners in the clinical examinations don't care what your skin colour or nationality is. International students in my year did win prizes in Final Med. Those international students who were expected to perform well did so...

    The only difference between EU and international students is when intern posts are allocated. EU law specifies that EU nationals are allocated jobs before non-EU nationals (regardless of performance in the Final Med examinations).

    This became an issue in Trinity this year. The class size in Trinity is usually approx 120 but the Class of 2007 numbered almost 145 (50: 50 EU and non-EU). There are 94 intern posts available in the Trinity teaching hospitals and up until this year there have always been enough posts for those graduates who chose to stay in Ireland to do the intern year. This year, there were more graduates seeking intern posts than posts available, so the hospitals in accordance with EU law allocated jobs to those with EU citizenship first before those graduates of other nationalities. As a result, some people were left without a job.

    The way in which the Medical School handled the "problem" was a bit of a disaster and led to a lot of mistrust and anger by the non-EU students in the class. The Medical School knew we were the biggest class they've ever had and should have anticipated that the issue would arise and dealt with it more proactively giving people time to apply elsewhere as a backup. Instead, the class was assured in January that the Medical School would allocate positions to the hospitals by merit and not nationality. However, herein lies the problem. The Medical School does not allocate the intern posts, they just provide a list of graduates to the hospitals and the graduates sign a contract of employment with the hospital. The Medical School does not guarantee any graduate a job and apparently this is specifically in the admission letter received by non-EU graduates.

    From what I've heard, similar situations have arisen in UCD and RCSI and with the new Medical School at the University of Limerick and the expansion of the other Medical Schools with 4 year graduate courses, there'll be even more pressure on intern posts in the future.
  6. leorl

    leorl Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2001
    For the most part, I don't think it's true. This year there was one instance when a consultant went on this shocking anti-American rant which really put off the North Americans and made us wary about marks if he examined. However, this was the first I'd ever seen and no one was really affected by it. I've met many more consultants who have done fellowships/research in the US and really enjoyed their experience, and they like to tell us about it - it's quite encouraging.

    If there is a feeling that non-Irish students are treated unfairly, it stems from a completely subjective grading system. And Irish can get hurt by it as well, it just seems out of proportion to the number of non-Irish hurt by it. However, there is no "hard" evidence that grade fixing or anything like that exists... as clinical exams are subjective and we aren't privy to the marking schemes. The written components are objective. The clinical results look "fishy" sometimes because a group of students could do well on the written...and then "slightly below honors" on the long case. But as I doesn't just happen to non-Irish (although more of them) and sometimes it might look like it happens to a number of US students, but it's more non-Irish than anti-American. However, there is no hard proof of this and there could be a number of reasons other than demography.
  7. roo

    roo Voice From The Wilderness 10+ Year Member

    Nov 16, 2000
    In my opinion, to some degree there is a bit of movement in opposite directions at final year.

    This is not everyone, not a majority, but there is a shift of more people moving in the opposite direction in starting vs. final year.

    At the starting years of Ireland medical school:

    --US/Canadian students memorizing every little factoid to improve scores on USMLE Step 1/MCCEE to improve chances of getting what they want in residency.
    --Irish students taking a bit of a 'just pass' approach on 1st year stuff, since it was study-study-study to get the points on leaving cert to get into medical school, final years are going to be intense, and things like organic chemistry, etc aren't going to impact much on their future lives. However, need to absolutely pass so not miss summers, or miss a year and miss out moving with a class.

    At the end of final year of Ireland medical school:
    --US/Canadian students have already gotten their residencies back in Feb/March, by the time final exams come several months later. Memorizing more factoids to get a higher score on a final exam realistically isn't going to matter much for them in life, neither on the wards in residency, nor for future job prospects. However, there is a absolute need to pass, or else they will miss starting their residency.
    --Irish students know that the class rank for final med will have a weighting on both whether or not they get their hospital of choice for internship [often this means one in the city where they are currently living versus having to go out to somewhere else in the country]. Also if they are pursuing a competitive specialty, then high class rank will come up to help them when applying for sparse registry posts in that field.

    So there is shift in focus of direction in the final months of Ireland medical school. In my experience, at that final time, [and understandably] there is more students from Ireland wanting to chase down the findings from that bizarre case up on the ward [in case it comes up on finals] vs. those who already have their residency.
  8. Unch

    Unch Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 2, 2005
    Victoria, BC
    Very astute, roo. Besides being very accurate, your post gave me a little chuckle.

    You've also inspired a question for me, though (for you or whoever knows). What impact do you think grades or class rank has on residency applications? We've been flogging this question to death here at UCC lately. Here we get the standard Irish Dean's letter which I believe lists class rank in every year (and possibly every course) through the whole five-year saga. Of course NAmerican directors won't know how to interpret the marks themselves but can look at class rank. Everyone seems to think that even class rank in years 1-3 doesn't really matter and that 4th and final med (and perhaps only final med) really matters. Perhaps it's wishful thinking for us lower years so we can reconcile our 60-something averages but it can have a big impact on one's approach to the angst of the foundation years. I'm a second med and many fourth and final meds I talk to tell me they just wish they'd stressed less in the early years, trying to get a 1H in everything when it clearly doesn't matter.

    Anyway, forgive me. I'm just right in the middle of my seven finals as I type (procrastinating of course) and wanting to really nail them but realizing that the system is set up to pretty well insure that I'll finish somewhere in the upper middle (yet again). Here's hoping that I'll stride out after all in the clinical years?!
  9. roo

    roo Voice From The Wilderness 10+ Year Member

    Nov 16, 2000
    Double post snipped.
  10. roo

    roo Voice From The Wilderness 10+ Year Member

    Nov 16, 2000
    At residency application time there are four groups of things that go in:
    (A) Your residency application form.
    (B) Your transcripts, which in Ireland often has a standard letter as part of it.
    (C) Hopefully, a bona fide dean's letter, not just the form letter.
    (D) Letters of recommendations from physicians. Probably one or more from a service in US/Canada where you did an elective.

    My personal advice on things you can do:

    (1) On your application for residencies to US, Canada, or wherever, there will be a section to list awards, achievements or whatever. Fill that with awards, scholarships, prizes first (if any), then if you did well in some years, or in certain courses, use the rest to fill in like this:
    Biochemistry: Summa Cum Laude
    3rd year overall: Summa Cum Laude
    Surgery I: Cum Laude
    Medical Informatics: Magna Cum Laude

    This is what people that do the application revew universally understand as what these mean. Don't bother with H1, H2.1 or H2.2, use Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude, and Cum Laude. These are the equivalent terms in meaning for people who aren't familiar with UK/Ireland terms for class rank.

    (2) On dean's letters, they can use the Cum Laude, or even better just write sentences that include the following as they apply:
    "You were in the top 25% [or whatever] of your class throughout medical school"
    "You were in the top 25% [or whatever] of your class in your graduating year"
    "You were in the top 25% [or whatever] of your class in the majority of your class years"
    "You were in the top 25% [or whatever] in the majority of your classes in graduating year"
    "Performed well, including scoring in the top 25% [or whatever] in Physiology, Surgery, Pediatrics [or whatever].

    I don't know the dean at UCC. If he/she isn't familiar with US/Canadian letters, then as a group of US/Canadian students, it would be worthwhile for yourselves as a group to provide him with a sample of what a US/Canada reference letter looks like. As well, if the dean doesn't already ask, provide the details of awards, etc so that dean can be sure that they are detailed correctly. The UCD dean when I was in school went through the US/Canadian system so knew how to make a proper, personalized letter highlighting strengths for those that performed well. It really was done well, and we appreciated the time that it took on his part to get to know us, and really spend time to convey his opinion in a proper letter.

    The reason is that recommendation letters are different in Ireland vs. US/Canada.

    Ireland letters can be as short as a sentence:
    "Dear colleague,
    Bobby Joe Smith was on my service and performed his duties well.
    Prof. The-Fact-That-I-Am-A-Full-Prof-In-Dublin-And-Signed-This-Letter-And-You-Know-Me-Because-This-Is-A-Small-Island"

    In US/Canada that same letter would be a kiss of death since here it is a taken as a doctor-to-doctor between-the-lines "this guy sucks" letter. You will need a 1-2 pager, properly personalized and highlighting strengths.

    Hope that helps,
  11. Arb

    Arb Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2004
    In UCD, we get GPAs now. No more 1H, etc. Will we be able to see our dean's letter?

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