Medical student selection criteria and junior doctor workplace performance

Ruth M. Sladek, Christine Burdeniuk, Alison Jones, Kevin Forsyth, Malcolm J. Bond

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Abstract

Background: Medical school selection decisions have consequences beyond graduation. With generally low attrition rates, most medical students become junior doctors. Universities are therefore not just selecting students into a medical course; they are choosing the future medical workforce. Understanding the relationship between selection criteria and outcomes beyond the successful completion of a medical degree may inform approaches to student selection. Methods: A retrospective data matching study was conducted involving 39 interns employed by a South Australian local health network in 2017 who had originally entered Flinders University's medical school through a graduate pathway. Student selection data were matched with internship workplace performance scores (measured by supervising consultants' reports across five clinical rotations using a standardised assessment). Correlational analyses then examined associations between these two sets of variables. Results: An overall selection rank (equal thirds of weighted Grade Point Average from a prior degree, a panel interview, and a national selection test) was moderately associated with all performance measures, accounting for up to 25% of variance. Both weighted Grade Point Average and the interview had multiple and mostly moderate correlations with performance. An increasing number of years taken to complete the course was associated with poorer workplace performance across multiple outcome measures (moderate to strong negative associations with 31 to 62% of shared variance), as was age to a lesser extent (7 to 14%). The national selection test contributed a single and small relationship accounting for 5% of variance with one outcome measure. Conclusions: Selection into medicine is a critical assessment given that most students become doctors. This study found multiple associations between selection scores and junior doctor workplace performance measures in the internship year, with weighted Grade Point Average from a prior degree and an interview appearing more important than the national selection test. Future collaborative research should map desired workplace performance outcomes to initial student selection and explore the impact of changes to selection which focus on assessment of these domains. The association between slower course progression and poorer workplace performance should also be examined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number384 (2019)
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Medical Education
Volume19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Academic performance
  • Grade point average
  • Internship and residency
  • Interviews
  • Medical students
  • Selection tests
  • Student selection
  • Workplace performance

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