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Parents heap pressure on students with 'pre-med' courses, doctors warn

PARENTS are forking out more than €6,000 for "pre-med" courses in private grind schools for their son or daughter in the hope they will be doctors, it emerged yesterday.

But the ambitious parents should be cautious about parting with their money, the annual meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) was told .

Dr Anthony O'Connor, a junior doctor in Tallaght Hospital Dublin, said the introduction of the HPAT exam -- an aptitude test for medical school applicants -- had spawned a private industry in courses.

Some of these are being labelled "pre-med" although this term should only be applied to the first year of a university medicine course.

The effect is that "mammy and daddy" are putting huge pressure on the young schoolgoer to get a place to study medicine, he told doctors at the IMO meeting in Killarney.

The IMO has already said it is opposed to the controversial HPAT test which aims to examine the logical, problem solving and interpersonal skills of medical school candidates who may have clocked up high points but might be unsuitable for a career in medicine.

Dr Matthew Sadlier a, trainee psychiatrist in St John of God's Hospital in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, also called for an end to the practice where Leaving Cert students had to sit the test in February when they were already overburdened with study. He said that having to divert their energies to this meant they could undermine their efforts to secure points to get their second or third options after medicine.

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