Wits University clinical medical students have been accused of misconduct.
“The allegations are just ridiculous aim(ed) at victimising my son.” This is according to Lovington Ngema*, the father of a Wits clinical medical student accused of falsifying his daily academic log. The student, a final year Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice (BCMP) student, is one of three students who were accused of misconduct for allegedly falsifying their clinical rotation logs at various academic hospital linked to Wits University, on November 20, 2019.
Ngema’s son, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of logging falsified information on his daily log book via a digital device issued by the university. Clinical medical students are required to complete the eLogBook accurately and honestly, filling in patient data, performed procedures and skills immediately after completing the procedure or skill and is a record of what the student has done and the hours they have work during clinical rotations.
“At the beginning of each clinical rotation, students are assigned a clinical preceptor who orientates them, introduces them to the staff of their assigned departments and hands them off to the staff”, said Professor Richard Cooke, acting academic head of Family Medicine and Primary Care. “A clinical preceptor is usually a doctor at the hospital who also has a joint assignment at Wits, typically as an associate professor”, added Cooke. At the end of the clinical day or session, the preceptor or the person they delegate their authority to (designee) is expected to review all patient interactions and skills completed by a student. The daily log of each student can only be submitted once a preceptor inputs their password onto the student’s device. According to Ngema’s father, the university is accusing his son of signing himself off in two of his rotations without the approval of the qualified doctor on the relevant days.
The 22-year-old accused student told Wits Vuvuzela that more charges have been brought against him during the course of this week. These include: a misrepresentation of the clinical activities that he had performed, and/or a misrepresentation that he acquired a specific clinical skill, and/or a misrepresentation that he had acquired a level of knowledge, skill and expertise sufficient to treat patients with safety.
“I was given a pass mark after completing every rotation. Throughout the year I assumed I was doing the right thing, yet they [the Wits Legal Office and BCMP faculty] find it in their hearts to surprise me when it’s time for me to graduate”, said the student.
“After I took the initiative to inquire about my missing marks, I received an email about the errors in my logbook. I am assuming that they weren’t going to tell me anything if I hadn’t inquired about my missing marks. I assume this was them trying to be ethical at the time”, added the student.
“The teaching of the BCMP programme has too many flaws and the department does not want to own up to their mistakes,” he said.
“Throughout the year we as clinical associate students have always had to fend for ourselves in the hospital sites. The lecturers would come to introduce us to the site but never did they actually assign us to the doctor we needed to work with hence we fend for ourselves to meet all of our supposed objectives.” According to the student, his daily logs were predominantly signed off by interns or supervisors and not the clinical preceptor.
“It really pains me when I think that I paid lot of money for my child to be left alone at hospital sites without any lecturers visiting him at hospitals, meaning Wits medical school left my child to fend for himself for the whole year. I’m very sad and disgusted,” added Ngema.
“One student has pleaded guilty to misconduct, investigations against the other two students are still underway”, said Cooke. “My hope is that through a robust interrogation, these issues (students misrepresenting their academic records) will be brought to light”, said Cooke.
The two accused students are set to appear at a disciplinary hearing at the Wits Legal Office next week.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the accused student.
FEATURED IMAGE: Wits Clinical Medical students await their fate at the university. Photo: File.