FINAL year medical students have claimed they were forced to “urinate in their seats” during their doctoral exam after being threatened with disqualification.
The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has now stepped in to represent students following a string of complaints to The UK Foundation Programme (UKFPO) over their handling of virtual exams.
The UKFPO exam in December was being sat by students all over the country and were using the Pearson VUE system – a secure online testing programme.
One student claimed they were disqualified from their examination for going to the toilet – despite trying to contact the invigilator but not hearing back.
Other students have taken to Twitter to claim they did “urinate” in their seats and soaked their carpets to avoid disqualification.
The organisation allegedly disqualified a student for answering a call during the exam as the candidate thought it was Pearson Vue phoning them about an issue.
And one student was disqualified for using blank paper despite the guidance not stating it they claim.
The UKFPO allegedly revoked others for putting on a jumper, turning around to turn off a noisy clock and playing a multimedia question out loud instead of on speakers.
Anonymous medical student shared the shocking treatment of final year medical students on Twitter on Thursday, captioned with: “Final year UK med student here. Going public with some experiences of a compulsory online exam.
“Summary: students threatened with disqualification from becoming doctors (in a pandemic) due to problems with online exams (incl. some being forced to urinate in their seats)”
The anonymous medical student wrote: “Another student’s exam was revoked after he tried to contact the proctor numerous times to request to use the toilet, he was ignored, and then did so anyway to avoid wetting himself.
“Multiple other students in this position did not have their exams revoked because they chose to urinate in their seats. I can’t imagine how demeaning and humiliating this must be.”
“I was made aware of many similar cases. Other causes of revoked exams have included putting on a jumper, turning around to turn off a noisy clock, receiving a cold call through a ‘safe exam browser’ (Candidate thought it was the invigilator) and playing a multimedia video question out loud (instead of via headphones).”
The student added: “Both Organisations need to urgently learn from what has happened.
“UKFPO need to issue an apology for the way they have treated students, and start listening to them.”
On behalf of the DAUK, Medical Student Representatives Freya Rhodes and Anna Sigston wrote a letter to the UKFPO and Pearson Vue detailing the students’ concerns.
The letter details many of the concerns expressed on Twitter and asks for them to respond to the complaints.
Dr Meenal Viz wrote under the post: “I’ve heard many similar cases and I’m so, so sorry that our medical students are wetting themselves as part of a test to assess their judgement in medical ethics.
“Clearly something is badly, badly wrong. We can’t treat our future doctors like this. During a pandemic, no less.”
Dr Ranj Singh, who works at London’s St Georges and St Thomas’ Hospitals said: “Will be looking into this and rectifying it asap? It’s disgusting and shameful to treat students like this.”
@vickymgibson wrote: “Horrific. In my specialty exam run by Pearson VUE, I had to beg to be allowed to take a bottle of water into a three hour exam in a hot room when I was pregnant. Others weren’t so fortunate.”
Dr Kit Byatt added: “It is embarrassing to see adult professionals (never mind future colleagues) treated like this. More strength to your elbow & hang on in there – right behind you in this.”
A spokeswoman for Pearson VUE today (MON) said: “All SJT candidates were provided with the option of either taking their SJT test at home via online proctoring or at a test centre.
“Candidates taking their exam with OnVUE (Pearson VUE’s online proctoring solution) were strongly advised in the week before their test appointment to carefully read through the exam rules and Pearson VUE’s policies and procedures around taking an exam online.
“The rules around OnVUE were communicated by the UKFPO in an email to all candidates in the run up to their exam at the recommendation of Pearson VUE.”
She added: “The SJT is taken under strict test conditions so you must be in a private room with a clear desk and walls (it shows personal items, including a notepad and pencil, being moved off a desk).”
Dr Mike Masding MA(Ed) FRCP, Co-Chair UKFPO & Lead HEE Foundation School Director said: “Out of 8000 UKFPO applicants a small number (less than 0.25% of the Cohort) were disqualified by the testing invigilator for prohibited actions.
“We are working with individual applicants whose tests were discontinued and where appropriate will offer the option to re-book.
“All applicants were given guidance in advance of the test but we will continue to work with partners to review the process and ensure all applicants are fully supported.”