• Niamh Roberts

Thinking of staying at home and recovering from that illness, think again y2

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Say the phrase ‘registered lectures’ to anyone who has just completed second year of the MB21 course, and you will probably illicit a sigh, or a rolling of the eyes. The policy is as follows: to monitor attendance, around 30 of the 100+ lectures we have in a year are registered, and this is used as a measure of everyone’s attendance throughout the whole year. Even though these lectures are supposedly chosen randomly, registered lectures seem to be on consecutive days, or Wednesdays before sports matches, or the 9am lecture after Medic’s Christmas Party. Even though the policy clearly has good intentions, it is actually having quite a negative effect on the year 2 students.

Before I continue, I should clarify that I do believe attendance and engagement with lectures is important. What we are being taught could literally be lifesaving and even year 2 students admit that “attendance checking is good when you don’t have summative exams”. I have no problem with the monitoring of attendance. However, I do have a problem with the way the policy is implemented in practice. First of all, not knowing which lectures will be registered puts an enormous pressure on students to

attend every lecture, despite illness or dificult personal circumstances. The way the attendance policy is implemented deters students from staying home and recuperating from mental and physical health problems. This thought is echoed by many students and is summed up by one student saying that “I definitely felt the pressure to attend lectures when I am sick”. It seems even more unnecessary when you consider lectures are put online for those who have missed them because of health reasons. As well as that, I cannot imagine the stress and worry it causes for those with long term health conditions, for whom missing lectures for recovery and hospital appointments is a regular thing.

Secondly, the way the policy is implemented stops students participating in the sports that they love. Many second-year students have had to miss sports matches because they cannot commit to them just in case the lecture is registered (imagine the frustration when it is not!). It seems even more ironic that these sports were so important for our UCAS applications but are indirectly discouraged during our time in

medical school.

But the biggest sticking point of this policy is the way that have actually implemented (as I have hinted before). All the students I have spoken to have criticised the random spot checking of attendance, saying that “spot check system greatly exaggerated how many sessions people missed”. Instead, many students have advocated registering of every lecture if attendance is to be checked. This would create a much more accurate picture of a person’s attendance and reducing the stress of missing one or two lectures (or the stress of being “carted away”, as one student put it!). Surely that seems a better way of doing it?

I emailed the Year 2 Leadership Team, explaining that the way the attendance policy was

implemented was causing a lot of unnecessary stress for students, and that a different way of monitoring attendance would be more beneficial and accurate. I received a reply reiterating that there was a “minimum expected attendance” for year 2 and that any student who was ill could report the absence on Blackboard. They seem to have missed the point.

Written by Niamh Roberts.

© 2020 by The Black Bag: Bristol Medical Student Magazine

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