Intended for healthcare professionals


Cheating at medical school

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 03 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:250

Schools need a culture that simply makes dishonest behaviour unacceptable

  1. Shimon M Glick, professor emeritus
  1. Moshe Prywes Center for Medical Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel

    Papers p 274

    The BMJ recently featured a strong response to what was judged an inappropriately lenient reaction by a medical school to a student cheating in an examination.1 Reviews of the literature suggest that we have insufficient reliable data about the extent of this phenomenon, its rate of change, its pathogenesis, its prevention, or its effective management.24 Furthermore, because of the nature of cheating and the methodological difficulties entailed in its study, the requisite evidence based conclusions will probably never be available. Yet, much can be concluded and acted upon on the basis of common sense and concepts with face validity, even without double blind studies.

    There is general agreement that there should be zero tolerance of cheating in a profession based on trust and one on which human lives depend. It is reasonable to assume that cheaters in medical school will be more likely than others to continue to act dishonestly with patients, colleagues, insurers, and government. Given the enormous power …

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