“He who cheats is not one of us”- Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him) [Sahih Muslim]

Cheating is not a new concept to medical students. Throughout grade school, high school, and college we have been exposed to, tested, and tempted to cheat. Many times we have even been witnesses to these violations of the honor code. But in med school? How can people who are studying to be physicians cheat? These are people who have spent the best years of their lives studying and giving up certain things in their lives in order to have the privilege of having patients’ lives in their hands, yet they are dishonest? Impossible! Unfortunately, the sad truth is that even in med school, there are people cheating their way through, and sometimes its even tempting. Here’s how to beat the urge and hopefully convince someone who has doubts.

You’re going to be put in this situation whether you like it or not. Three exams in one week, each worth a significant percentage of your grade, and you didn’t have time to study for any of them because you were still recovering form last week’s onslaught of tests. People around you are coming up with the most creative ways to cheat, and even suggest to you to use your hijab to hide some answers and notes in there (no lie, was suggested to me before). It sounds ridiculous, but everyone is doing it, and you are worried about your chances of getting a good residency if you slip up on these exams. But stop and think of the above hadith. Are these exams really worth you losing your religion? Is getting an A worth the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) turning his face away from you in disgust because you are branded as a cheater?

Once you’ve lost someone’s trust, chances are its lost forever. Those who cheat will one day be caught, and the consequences they suffer will be dire. For those attempting to cheat their way through med school, I ask you one question: how are you going to pass your boards? We’ve experienced that type of high security for the MCAT that puts airports to shame, so how do you expect to get past that? And if you do attempt to somehow weasel your way though med school and boards, what is the situation going to be during residency? Once they hand over the scalpel to you and ask you to perform a surgery, no notes written on the back of your hand or written on the label of a water bottle are going to help you (apologies, alhamdulillah I’ve never cheated before so I can only give examples of what I’ve read in books).

Before taking an exam, my mother would remind my siblings and I that its better to receive a honest zero than to cheat and a score a 100%. Even if you don’t have the time to review a thousand pathology slides or fifty different surgical techniques, it’s really not worth it for you to risk your status in front of Allah (SWT) and your integrity. The reality is that the cheater will receive their punishment in this world, which may be in the form of expulsion or eventually having their license taken away due to malpractice, and then again in the hereafter, in front of every soul that has ever lived on earth. It’s really not worth it. Be sincere in your prayers, ask Allah SWT for baraka in your time, and leave it up to Him. Study in the time that you have, and do your best. Even if you don’t receive the score that you aimed for, you’ll sleep easy knowing it was a halal and hard earned one.