I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in my specialty’s national board organization and its lack of response to the tragedy still unfolding in Israel. Ophthalmology oral boards are currently scheduled for 10/20/2023 through 10/22/2023, and I have received multiple notifications this week regarding testing logistics but not a single reference to a terrorist attack on the scale of the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York City. I do not expect the organization to take a position on the conflict, though I would be very supportive of such a decision. However, I expect an organization claiming to represent all its members to be cognizant of ongoing world events and offer guidance for prospective oral board examinees scheduled for this upcoming weekend.
The board’s policy on diversity, equity, and inclusion effectively consists of the following single sentence taken from their website: “Standing against racism is necessary but not sufficient; physicians must lead by example by standing for safety, equality, opportunity, and freedom for all persons.” Practical steps for achieving this goal are limited to a minority mentorship program and written articles about bias and discrimination. Presented with an opportunity to support their prospective members in need, the board has amply demonstrated its true perspective on this issue through its resounding silence and complete absence of actions taken.
I am prepared for this exam and wish to proceed as scheduled, but I can personally attest to how distracted and, honestly, deprioritized my studying has become in the context of more important world events. Any examinee who does not feel prepared to take the examination given the current geopolitical circumstances should be supported and not ignored. I am deeply disturbed that a physician organization lacks empathy to such a degree that they did not immediately realize the need to offer interventions for these extenuating circumstances. The board should immediately offer any examinee affected by the events in Israel the option to delay their exam to the following oral exam session in six months with no associated fees. This is especially the case as the oral boards are still conducted virtually, and there are essentially no material costs associated with the exam process. I have no doubt this alternative would have been offered or the exam canceled altogether if oral boards had happened days after 9/11/2001.
The author is an anonymous physician.