Graduate entry medicine is a recent innovation in UK medical training. Evidence is sparse at present as to progress and attainment on these programmes. Shared clinical rotations, between an established 5-year and a new graduate entry course, provide the opportunity to compare achievement on clinical assessments. To compare completion and attainment on clinical phase assessments between students on a 4-year graduate entry course and an established 5-year undergraduate medicine course.
Overall completion rates for the 4 and 5 year courses, fails at first attempt, and scores on 14 clinical assessments, were compared between 171 graduate-entry and 450 undergraduate medical students at the University of Nottingham, comprising two graduating cohorts. Percentage assessment marks were converted to z-scores separately for each graduating year and the normalised marks then combined into a single dataset. Z-score transformed percentage marks were analysed by multivariate analysis of variance and univariate analyses of variance for each summative assessment. Numbers of fails at first attempt were analysed aggregated across all assessments initially, then separately for each assessment using χ2.
Completion rates were around 90% overall and significantly higher in the graduate entry course. Failures of assessments overall were similar, but a higher proportion of graduate entry students failed the final OSLER. Mean performance on clinical assessments showed a significant overall difference, made up of lower performance on 4 of 5 knowledge-based exams (as well as higher performance on the first exam) by the graduate entry group, but similar levels of performance on all the skills-based and attitudinal assessments.
High completion rates are encouraging. The lower performance in some knowledge-based exams may reflect lower prior educational attainment, a substantially different demographic profile (age, gender), or an artefact of the first 2 years of a new graduate entry programme.