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Dr Jonathan Shapiro

Will aptitude tests do more than paper over the cracks in the NHS?  

One of the recommendations made by the recent Francis Report is the introduction of aptitude tests for nurses at entry into the profession, though interestingly, not for doctors. These tests would ‘explore, in particular, candidates’ attitudes towards caring, compassion and other necessary professional values.’

Like so many other ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’ reports, Francis seems to assume that cause and effect can usually be linked; in this case, a nurse with aptitude for caring can care, whereas one without it can’t.

It is clearly a truism that people who do not have an aptitude for caring really shouldn’t go into any of the caring professions, be they potential nurses, therapists, or doctors.

However, life isn’t that simple, and the report really misses the point by assuming a) that aptitude is the only determinant of caring, and b) that it will remain rock steady, despite all the prevailing pressures. The reality, as almos

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