From cooking and dating to singing and weight-losing, a myriad of themes have been presented in reality shows that entice viewers to witness unscripted drama. But would the road to medical school make for an engaging watch?
In the second round of the reality competition the lab exam tests who’s a team player, one of the essential qualities in being a good doctor.
The latest reality competition follows how nine wannabe doctors secured a place at Mahidol University's Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, which has its own TV channel broadcasting on TrueVisions (47, 80).
Launched last year, Rama Channel airs a variety of health-related programmes and the reality show, Rama Search 2012, is among the new programming that takes the channel to the next level.
At the same time, this pilot project provides a comprehensive approach to selecting medical students, who really have what it takes to become good doctors, which is not only about having brains.
"The format allows us to get to know more about the youngsters than interviewing them. They also learn more about themselves, whether they really want to be a doctor. There are cases of students who want to make their parents happy by studying medicine. At heart, they want to do something else, and ultimately no one's happy," said Assoc Prof Jiraporn Laothamatas, deputy dean for Corporate Communication.
"We want to communicate to youngsters, parents and society the qualities required to become a good doctor. Along with IQ and EQ, Rama medical students need to have compassion for helping sick people. Just as important, they have to be a team player because treating patients is not a one-man show."
Assoc Prof Jiraporn Laothamatas.
The Rama Search format comprises is a team-of-three competition encompassing three rounds.
Open to Mathayomsuksa 6 students with an average grade of at least 3, the first round of written exams takes place in Bangkok and four other regions where applicants are tested on their knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and English.
Ten teams with the highest combination of scores then pass on to the second round, the lab exams, which will select five teams as finalists, who have to participate in a "Doctor Camp" at Ramathibodi Hospital
"Following the normal university admission system, exam results and an interview determine whether you will get into medical school," Dr Jiraporn said. "This reality competition is much harder because the lab exams test not only scientific knowledge, but thinking process, organisational skills, problem-solving skills and teamwork.
"Likewise, the Doctor Camp challenges participants with tasks designed by psychiatrists, to test their EQ and uncover attitudes in order to evaluate who would really make a good doctor."
The evaluation is done by a panel of judges, who observe the finalists' behaviour and interaction among their team as well as with others. Typical of reality shows, the editing alternates contestants' and judges' feelings and comments about each task. The judges, who are medical professors, decide the three winning trios, who get to become freshies at medical school.
When news broke about producing this reality show, the chief criticism was that recruiting medical students shouldn't be a game, especially a game that calls for a public vote, which is commonly used for Thai reality shows.
"With no public voting involved, the reality competition seriously looks for youngsters who have really set their heart on becoming doctors, while viewers get to see the credible process in the form of an interesting reality show," emphasised Dr Jiraporn, who is planning new programmes for the second year of the TV station.
"Many people may think of Rama Channel as PR to attract more patients to the already-crowded Ramathibodi Hospital. On the contrary, we want fewer patients coming here," she explained.
"A doctor can only talk to one patient at a time whereas our TV programmes reach out to a much larger audience, giving patients the how-to in handling diseases, and for healthy people, the how-to in preventing diseases. Rama Channel aims to arm Thais with knowledge as a preventative approach."
Rama Channel's future programmes include sitcoms and series on health and social issues based on real life.
"People may think that Rama Channel presents boring programmes on health with doctors lecturing in a studio. However the channel offers a variety of interesting programmes," Dr Jiraporn said. "We think of new TV projects, not from a doctor's point of view, but from that of patients and their families. As viewers relate to real life stories, the reality element makes for appealing programmes that we have in store for next year."
Featuring 12 episodes, Rama Search 2012 airs on Sundays from 11am-12pm on Rama Channel (TrueVisions 47, 80).
About the author
- Writer: Kanokporn Chanasongkram