This site is intended for health professionals only

The peak of the bell curve

An empty exam hall, and a chance for one GP registrar to make a difference

At five feet four with tousled brown hair and beige cardigan she was common place. All of her life she had trailed along the fiftieth centile, a tram caught on very average tracks, never deviating, never dipping, never excelling, simply smoothing her way through the groove of her life into a predictable Xeroxed future.

She sat at her desk in an empty exam hall, as bereft and as dislocated as a shark’s fin.

She was the only one there, the only one out of thousands of registrars to have been invited to sit the new-style paper. The college had developed statistical models that were so refined, so nuanced and with such enormous predictive power that all the candidates could be ranked according to a single score. Her score.

She nervously eyed the clock, the spider legs of time lingered for a moment before flicking on.

Her GP trainer described her, somewhat unkindly, as run of the mill and now here she sat, unenviably, at the very peak of the bell curve, on either side its smooth, symmetrical sides slid down into low lying territory. For the college she was the bland, tolerable face of training, ideal for setting standards.

Her time was now over.

As she left the hall she smiled to herself. She’d purposely answered two of the questions incorrectly. She knew that this would skew her average and that hundreds of borderline candidates would now pass.

She headed off into a not so predictable future.

Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen. In response to: RCGP broke rules in toughening up clinical skills exam

Click here for more from Through the K hole Through the k hole