“Everybody Must Go”: The Mindset for Collective Success in Medical School

A friend once said that choosing to be a medical doctor is signing up to a lifetime of tests and examinations. This is not far from the truth as it becomes your reality once you cross the threshold of medical school. Recent graduates of various colleges of Medicine have also testified that the exams continue through every level one gets to, even after medical school.

Thankfully, there are numerous resources for these exams one has to write, including YouTube videos, actual lecture notes, textbooks, past questions, among others. The Nigerian medical education system is also built in such a way that medical graduates are not judged based on their CGPA – you’re either a doctor with distinctions (which is a rare feat) or a doctor (where the majority falls). In COMUI, distinctions are such rare gems that only very few find, such that what most people want is to just pass, and this makes the “everyone must go” mentality thrive in MBBDS classes. Or does it?

As preliminary students, you must have benefited greatly from the past questions prepared by Efosa, a member of the 2023 graduating class. As preclinical students, you must have come across the 2K18 compiled questions and materials prepared by the certain other seniors. More recently, you may have also seen Chioma’s and Blessing’s Biochemistry essays, Medicathron’s anatomy essays, FECAMDS essays, MMS essays. These are all past questions compiled and answered by certain groups in a class and shared with the rest of the class and the juniors coming after.

But what happens when a group decides not to share their materials with other members of the class? Well, life goes on as normal. I mean, there  will be grumblings from different corners of the class, but eventually, things quiet down, they write the exams, most of the class passes, and life goes on.

Taking a Closer Look

While many may immediately dismiss not releasing (or, “hoarding”) materials as morally wrong, upon closer inspection, one sees that it’s not a black-and-white situation and there are indeed many sides to it. The key here, however, is a form or aspect of what is known as Social Contract theory. I’ll spare you the technicalities and details, but the basic idea is that when members of a society unite under a common goal, it places a binding obligation on each member toward the attainment of that goal. Therefore, each member is guaranteed certain rights so long as other members fulfill their obligations to the common goal. 

In this case, the common goal is the success of every member of the class, and the social contract obligates every member of the class to work towards this goal. Thus, this issue boils down to obligation and how different individuals within the group perceive this social contract – which by the way wasn’t formally written, codified, or assented to. I mean, last time I checked, you didn’t tick a box on your admission form or during registration that had to do with this. So you have the first problem already – the contract, though good, is assumed, not written. It is assumed that everyone must be committed to the success of every other individual in the class.

This often takes a different look for several stakeholders.

The Burden on the Majority Leader, Group Leader or Senators

Should a class representative get information about the format of a test or exam and refuse to share with the entire class, that would be grossly wrong. Let’s paint a picture: you’re walking with the lecturer and he randomly says that the test or exam the entire class is preparing for would be taking a new format. The nature of your position as class representative demands that you share this information with the class. Same goes with any material that a senior shares with you by virtue of your position as Class Representative. This is because a greater burden is placed upon you as a leader as to commitment to the social contract.

The Burden on Tutorials Organized by Religious Bodies

There are several religious bodies that organize tutorials in medical school. These include but are not limited to FECAMDS, CMDA, DMG, RMDS, and MMS. The tutorials usually hold throughout the session although the intensity increases towards exams and tests, and seniors in these tutorials often share resources and guide students on how to answer questions. What someone in MMS is taught would most likely be different from what a person who attends FECAMDS is taught. From an individualistic perspective, they’re not obligated to share their resources, but going by the social contract theory, otherwise is the case. This helps to ensure that if a tutorial expands on a concept or provides any helpful resources, any other interested person in the class can go through them, learn the concept, and pass the exams.

The Burden on Individual Members of the Class and Individual Tutorial Groups

In the 2K25 class, for example, a member has been known to compile questions for upcoming tests. These are files that he tags as “Super Saiyan Elite”. If he hadn’t shared his compilation, no one would have known that he does anything like that. In fact, one of these compilations was used by the class ahead of his (2K24) when they were preparing for their MB. He loses nothing from sharing it, but hundreds of people gain from it. 

While there are several nuances to the situation and arguments about whether or not it would be justified to keep your preparatory materials to oneself, we must be reminded of the social contract theory. Since this social contract is not a legal or formal one (i.e., it is assumed, not written or formally assented to), there is no legislation that condemns a person or group that does not share their resources – an action that may be regarded as a breach of the contract. However, the question about the ethical implications of it remains. 

It has been said that surviving medical school is simply about knowing what everyone else knows. Or, in the words of a famous contemporary philosopher, “info l’eyan fi n fo” (i.e., one thrives through information). This is why towards a test or exam, materials are often seen from every sect of the class. The Muslim sister is seen avidly reading the FECAMDS answered PQs and the Christian brother is seen revising with the MMS pretest. This “everyone must pass” mentality may be the secret to the success seen in COMUI and must thus be preserved. So, while it’s not legally wrong to withhold your preparatory materials, we can all agree that it’s only morally right to share with your classmates. After all, in a place like COMUI, Mr A’s success will not result in Miss B’s failure.

Afeezah Wojuade

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