The recent media coverage around the HPAT is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, the idea that you should even attempt to test an 18/19-year old’s character for its suitability for a career in medicine before subjecting them to six years of tough undergraduate study followed by a grueling apprenticeship as a junior doctor, seems daft. (There is a sub-text here, namely the presumption that because a young person gets a clatter of points in the Leaving Cert, they must be some sort of odd ball who will be unable to communicate effectively with patients.)
Secondly, the idea that doctors need to be empathetic is one that deserves to be challenged. As someone with a chronic illness myself, I don’t necessarily want my doctor be able to ‘walk in my shoes’ because if they do, they might be prone to poor decision- making, as I have been on many occasions. No, I’d much rather my doctor to be compassionately detached; someone who will interact with me in a kind and respectful manner but who will ultimately make rational decisions (not emotional ones) about my care.