Posted by: Witch Doctor | April 10, 2007

The shoe-lace competency test



The Witch Doctor is very interested in the “Origami Competence Test” used currently to test surgical ability.(ref: “Medicine Now” J Crippen, Hospital Doctor, p15, 5 April 2007)

There is another test which could be added to the collection which may be even more discriminatory than the Origami Test.

This is the “Shoe-Lace Competency Test”

This test must be used in a different way. It can never be used in an assessment centre, because very soon, news of this important competency would cascade year on year to all other candidates for surgical training. They would then practice hard before their assessment and pass the test in spite of their deep-rooted failings in this area. Thus it would be rendered useless after the first diet of the assessment procedure.

It needs to be, rather, an observation over time.

And it needs to be kept secret.

There is, fortunately, a way of doing this.

All that would be required would be a highly confidential memo from the CMO to all consultants. These after all, are the senior medics who will provide references for candidates entering surgical training schemes. Hopefully, they still do have a little influence.

The memo would read something like this:

“To: All Hospital consultants
From: The CMO on behalf of The MMC Team



The MMC team has requested that all NHS consultants become up-skilled in their ability to identify candidates who seem unable to tie their shoe laces properly. This skill must be included in a confidential person specification of each candidate and incorporated into your structured reference for that doctor. It is important the doctor is not made aware of this ongoing assessment or he/she may employ a competent Significant-Other to tie the shoe laces each morning. Thus the test would not be valid.

Over the next few months we will provide training for you in centres up and down the country. Please note that this training is essential for all consultant surgeons. Once you have completed training you will be recognised as a “National Shoe Lace Competency Assessor” Any reference you provide for a candidate for surgical training will be discarded unless you have a certificate stating you are formally up-skilled in this area. Discretionary points will be with-held from all consultant surgeons not participating in this scheme.

If you are already a consultant surgeon, but find difficulty tying your own shoe laces, please report immediately to your local HR Department so that you can safely be deployed to another specialty.”

That would do it.


If you are an NHS consultant and this memo reaches your desk, then you could be forgiven for thinking this is a varient of one of The Witch Doctor’s “Little Blue Bottle Spells”

Also, note that the “Shoe-Lace Competency Test” smacks of sexual discrimination. Females seldom wear shoe-laces. It is biased towards female surgical trainees.

No matter. No-one will notice.


  1. […] Ah, the shoe lace competency test! […]

  2. […] be called in the event of a near death situation. It is, of course possible, that by springing the “Origami test” unexpectedly on a candidate, a spluttering and choking attack may occur during the assessment […]

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