February 3rd, 2012
02:32 AM ET

Video: Investigation: Doctors cheating on exams

CNN's Drew Griffin found evidence of doctors, who work in a variety of specialties, cheating to become certified.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Phil Shaffer, MD

    Is it cheating? Is it not? The question will never be answered. Here are some important issues not brought to light by the report. No one can possibly remember the answers to a degree that would allow you to pass. Further, tweaks are made to the questions, so that if you could remember, you would probably not pass because that particular question had been changed by one negative. The questions serve mostly, I believe, as a study guide. You would get a feel for the kinds of questions, and the areas that will be covered. Not much different than what my son studyed from when he purchased from bookstores old Law School admission tests to help him study for that test. The report does not note that the cause of this situation is two fold. First, the board recently changed from oral boards to written boards. The oral boards were constructed in such a way that recalled questions were only useful as a general study guide. (I should also point out that the oral boards occasionally used cases from a set of cases sold to Radiology departments by the American College of Radiology specifically to help teach residents. In using these, the board sanctioned use of study aids that were subsequently on the test verbatim). Secondly, the board should change the exam completely every year. That they don't is their fault. The exam is extremely expensive, and they certainly have the resources to do so.

    February 5, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  2. Barry Love, MD

    The cheaters are the specialty boards! They "only" reuse 20% of old questions? If they set a new exam each time, there wouldn't be a problem. Now I can hear them crying "It is hard to make new exam questions!" Get real! The candidates are all paying more than $1000 to write the exam in the first place. The least the specialty boards could do is actually write some new exam questions.

    I went to high school in Alberta, Canada. There are province-wide exams for grade 12 in all the major subjects. The provincial education department sets a new exam each year in every subject. The department actually sell booklets of the old exams as a study aid for students. It really wouldn't be so hard for the medical boards to do the same and quit insinuating that the candidates are cheating by recalling old exam questions.

    February 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  3. nathaniel swan

    The whole "business" of board exams was something I was introduced to in Chiropractic school. There was a team of teachers from many chiropractic schools that would gather to submit questions for such exams. There was another group of doctors that would come around a week or so before our boards and have these study sessions to cram for these exams. They would pull students aside and ask if they could be interviewed following an exam to get a feeling as ti which direction the questions may be going. More tech or more structural or more physiology (example) I have little doubt that some questions were shared. In scoring if everyone gets the question correct, I was told it was thrown out. The same was true if everyone got it wrong. So there may be 200 questions on a portion of the exam, but your score may be given on how you responded to 20-30 questions. So the reviewers are always trying to second guess the exams and the school representatives are trying to surprise the reviewers. I felt the students were in the middle of a strange game but the exams are very costly (to a student) and the cram sessions are equally expensive. The detail of many questions was in no way reflective of what we really needed to know, but it was just a tricky questions. The more ways you see the same question presented, the better you get at teat taking. I would also like to say it having all this information in ones short term memory is almost impossible to manage. I do not believe that was blatant cheating and since we were drawn to this field, it was most of us wanted to do and most of us loved studying all of this.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  4. Fred C Chu, MD

    The CNN feature of doctors cheating to pass license exams angers me. Review for medical licenses and specialiites is like any other profession oir subject. Do you remember the copied "cheat" sheets passed around in college or the synopsis books selling next to course texts. Whatever test (ACT, SAT, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT), there are books, DVDs, online videos and formal review courses (like Kaplan, Priinceton Review and Sylvan) to help prepare. There are even collections of printed books on sale for entrance into the civil service, copies of state motor vehicle questions online. These are not criminal activities or cheating. One cannot pass the qualifying tests in most cases, just studying the review questions. You have to be knowledgeable in the subject. Drop the sensationalism. Will you ask your doctor if he cheated on this specialty tests? Ask Sanjay!

    February 3, 2012 at 11:30 am |