After three years, Council of State agrees with medical student

Jaap Pesman, the medical student who has been fighting an internship assessment he considers to be unjust for three years, has won his case.

On Wednesday, the Council of State judged that his examiner had unjustly made him do two extra internships.

‘Unreal’, responds Pesman, who after all this time had hardly expected to be heard. ‘I think this proves that there was really something wrong with the assessment.’

He feels the university should take action and investigate how to prevent such things from happening again. ‘That is the most important thing for me.’

He is still considering demanding compensation, ‘but that is likely.’

Failing grade

In July of 2021, Pesman received a failing grade, known as ‘not yet on track’ or NYOT, for an internship in the second year of the medical master programme. In order to compensate for it, he had to do two extra internships and repeat the one he’d failed.

According to the examiner and the medical exam committee, this was standard procedure. Because of the Covid pandemic, students were doing fewer internships than usual. Anyone who failed to measure up would have to do the original ten internships instead of eight.

Conflict

But Pesman contended that he was being punished because of a conflict with his examiner, who had also served as his supervisor for the failed internship. 

He brought his case to every appeals body he could find, until the Council of State stated last summer that the justification for the two ‘penalty internship’ was lacking. The Board of Appeal for Examinations then asked the medical exam committee to re-evaluate the case.

Back then, the examiner said that ‘appellant had difficulty distinguishing the main and side issues during various internships, even those that were assessed as on track’. She had decided to impose two extra internships to ‘give the student the opportunity to show progress’. The Board of Appeals agreed.

Deviated

But the Council of State does not. While there were rules in place at the programme that said that students with an NYOT assessment should do the original ten internships, in practice, they rarely had to. ‘The programme regularly deviated from its own rules’, the Council of State writes. ‘It’s still unclear why.’

That means it’s also unclear why Pesman in particular should be doing the extra internships. With that, the decisions by the Board of Appeals and the exam committee have been declared void. Pesman only has one internship left to complete.

Pesman’s reaction was added to the article after publication.

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