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1.  Widening access to medical education for under-represented socioeconomic groups: population based cross sectional analysis of UK data, 2002-6 
Objective To determine whether new programmes developed to widen access to medicine in the United Kingdom have produced more diverse student populations.
Design Population based cross sectional analysis.
Setting 31 UK universities that offer medical degrees.
Participants 34 407 UK medical students admitted to university in 2002-6.
Main outcome measures Age, sex, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity of students admitted to traditional courses and newer courses (graduate entry courses (GEC) and foundation) designed to widen access and increase diversity.
Results The demographics of students admitted to foundation courses were markedly different from traditional, graduate entry, and pre-medical courses. They were less likely to be white and to define their background as higher managerial and professional. Students on the graduate entry programme were older than students on traditional courses (25.5 v 19.2 years) and more likely to be white (odds ratio 3.74, 95% confidence interval 3.27 to 4.28; P<0.001) than those on traditional courses, but there was no difference in the ratio of men. Students on traditional courses at newer schools were significantly older by an average of 2.53 (2.41 to 2.65; P<0.001) years, more likely to be white (1.55, 1.41 to 1.71; P<0.001), and significantly less likely to have higher managerial and professional backgrounds than those at established schools (0.67, 0.61 to 0.73; P<0.001). There were marked differences in demographics across individual established schools offering both graduate entry and traditional courses.
Conclusions The graduate entry programmes do not seem to have led to significant changes to the socioeconomic profile of the UK medical student population. Foundation programmes have increased the proportion of students from under-represented groups but numbers entering these courses are small.
PMCID: PMC3043108  PMID: 21343208
2.  Comparative attainment of 5-year undergraduate and 4-year graduate entry medical students moving into foundation training 
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.
PMCID: PMC2808300  PMID: 20028543
3.  Predicting academic outcomes in an Australian graduate entry medical programme 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:31.
Predictive validity studies for selection criteria into graduate entry courses in Australia have been inconsistent in their outcomes. One of the reasons for this inconsistency may have been failure to have adequately considered background disciplines of the graduates as well as other potential confounding socio-demographic variables that may influence academic performance.
Graduate entrants into the MBBS at The University of Western Australia between 2005 and 2012 were studied (N = 421). They undertook a 6-month bridging course, before joining the undergraduate-entry students for Years 3 through 6 of the medical course. Students were selected using their undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA), Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test scores (GAMSAT) and a score from a standardised interview. Students could apply from any background discipline and could also be selected through an alternative rural entry pathway again utilising these 3 entry scores. Entry scores, together with age, gender, discipline background, rural entry status and a socioeconomic indicator were entered into linear regression models to determine the relative influence of each predictor on subsequent academic performance in the course.
Background discipline, age, gender and selection through the rural pathway were variously related to each of the 3 entry criteria. Their subsequent inclusion in linear regression models identified GPA at entry, being from a health/allied health background and total GAMSAT score as consistent independent predictors of stronger academic performance as measured by the weighted average mark for the core units completed throughout the course. The Interview score only weakly predicted performance later in the course and mainly in clinically-based units. The association of total GAMSAT score with academic performance was predominantly dictated by the score in GAMSAT Section 3 (Reasoning in the biological and physical sciences) with Section 1 (Reasoning in the humanities and social sciences) and Section 2 (Written communication) also contributing either later or early in the course respectively. Being from a more disadvantaged socioeconomic background predicted weaker academic performance early in the course. Being an older student at entry or from a humanities background also predicted weaker academic performance.
This study confirms that both GPA at entry and the GAMSAT score together predict outcomes not only in the early stages of a graduate-entry medical programme but throughout the course. It also indicates that a comprehensive evaluation of the predictive validity of GAMSAT scores, interview scores and undergraduate academic performance as valid selection processes for graduate entry into medical school needs to simultaneously consider the potential confounding influence of graduate discipline background and other socio-demographic factors on both the initial selection parameters themselves as well as subsequent academic performance.
PMCID: PMC3931285  PMID: 24528509
4.  Cohort study of examination performance of undergraduate medical students learning in community settings 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;328(7433):207-209.
Objectives To determine whether moving clinical medical education out of the tertiary hospital into a community setting compromises academic standards.
Design Cohort study.
Setting Flinders University four year graduate entry medical course. In their third year, students are able to choose to study at the tertiary teaching hospital in Adelaide, in rural general practices, or at Royal Darwin Hospital, a regional secondary referral hospital.
Participants All 371 medical students who did their year 3 study from 1998-2002.
Main outcome measures Mean student examination score (%) at the end of year 3.
Results The unadjusted mean year 3 scores at each location differed significantly (P < 0.001); the mean score was 65.2 (SE = 0.43) for Adelaide students, 68.2 (0.83) for Darwin students, and 69.3 (0.97) for students on the rural programme. Mean year 2 scores were similar for each location. Post hoc tests of means adjusted for sex, age, year 2 score, and cohort year showed that the rural and Darwin groups had a significantly improved score in year 3 compared with the Adelaide group (adjusted mean difference = 3.08, 95% confidence interval 1.25 to 4.90, P < 0.001 for rural group; 1.91, 0.47 to 3.36, P = 0.001 for Darwin group).
Conclusions These findings show that the concern that student academic performance in the tertiary hospital would be better than that of students in the regional hospital and community settings is not justified. This challenges the orthodoxy of a tertiary hospital education being the gold standard for undergraduate medical students.
PMCID: PMC318489  PMID: 14739189
5.  An Objective Standardized Clinical Examination (OSCE) in an Advanced Nonprescription Medicines Course 
To add an objective standardized clinical examination (OSCE) to a nonprescription medication elective and assess the impact on students' knowledge, skills, and satisfaction.
A nonprescription medicine elective was altered to incorporate more active learning and skill-assessment measures. Small group recitation sessions were added to review didactic material from a prior required nonprescription medicine course, and an objective standardized clinical examination was used to assess skills.
Thirty-four students completed the 3-case OSCE with an average grade of 88%. The standardized patients expressed differences in their satisfaction with the student pharmacists' care by ranking the students' overall performance. Students' grades for the course and course evaluations were similar to the previous year.
The addition of the OSCE to the elective course provided students with an enhanced mechanism for evaluation of their self-care education and skill development.
PMCID: PMC2933028  PMID: 21045940
self-care; nonprescription drugs; objective standardized clinical examination (OSCE); community practice
6.  A modified honours grading system and the selection of postgraduate trainees. 
The selection of medical graduates for postgraduate training has often been considered to be unreliable and arbitrary because of the quality of information made available by medical schools to program directors. Many faculties of medicine have changed from reporting graduate performance in percentage grades to using an honours/pass/fail grading system to ensure that clearly established criteria for competence have been met and to encourage excellence and minimize competition. Unfortunately, the honours/pass/fail grading system has not been able to give a clear statement of relative class standing to assist in postgraduate selection. This paper describes a modified honours grading system, which takes into account a student's grade, the relative weighting of a course and the number of honours grades awarded per course. The proposed system was found to rank students in a way similar to that of the traditional percentage grading system, with no significant loss in internal consistency. The modified honours grading system permits faculties that use honours/pass/fail grades to report student performance and class standing, thereby assisting program directors in the selection of medical students for postgraduate training.
PMCID: PMC1335319  PMID: 2018963
7.  The effect of an intercalated BSc on subsequent academic performance 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:76.
The choice of whether to undertake an intercalated Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree is one of the most important decisions that students must make during their time at medical school. An effect on exam performance would improve a student's academic ranking, giving them a competitive edge when applying for foundation posts.
Retrospective data analysis of anonymised student records. The effects of intercalating on final year exam results, Foundation Programme score, application form score (from white-space questions), quartile rank score, and success with securing Foundation School of choice were assessed using linear and ordered logistic regression models, adjusted for course type, year of graduation, graduate status and baseline (Year 1) performance.
The study included 1158 students, with 54% choosing to do an intercalated BSc, and 9.8% opting to do so at an external institution. Doing an intercalated BSc was significantly associated with improved outcome in Year 5 exams (P = 0.004). This was irrespective of the year students chose to intercalate, with no significant difference between those that intercalated after years 2, 3 and 4 (p = 0.3096). There were also higher foundation application scores (P < 0.0001), academic quartile scores (P = 0.0003) and resultant overall foundation scores (P < 0.0001) in intercalated students. These students also had improved success with securing their first choice Foundation School (p = 0.0220). Participants who remained at the institution to intercalate in general performed better than those that opted to intercalate elsewhere.
Doing an intercalated BSc leads to an improvement in subsequent exam results and develops the skills necessary to produce a strong foundation programme application. It also leads to greater success with securing preferred Foundation School posts in students. Differences between internally- and externally-intercalating students may be due to varying course structures or greater challenge in adjusting to a new study environment.
PMCID: PMC3200165  PMID: 21967682
8.  Profiling strugglers in a graduate-entry medicine course at Nottingham: a retrospective case study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:124.
10-15% of students struggle at some point in their medicine course. Risk factors include weaker academic qualifications, male gender, mental illness, UK ethnic minority status, and poor study skills. Recent research on an undergraduate medicine course provided a toolkit to aid early identification of students likely to struggle, who can be targeted by established support and study interventions. The present study sought to extend this work by investigating the number and characteristics of strugglers on a graduate-entry medicine (GEM) programme.
A retrospective study of four GEM entry cohorts (2003–6) was carried out. All students who had demonstrated unsatisfactory progress or left prematurely were included. Any information about academic, administrative, personal, or social difficulties, were extracted from their course progress files into a customised database and examined.
362 students were admitted to the course, and 53 (14.6%) were identified for the study, of whom 15 (4.1%) did not complete the course. Students in the study group differed from the others in having a higher proportion of 2ii first degrees, and scoring less well on GAMSAT, an aptitude test used for admission. Within the study group, it proved possible to categorise students into the same groups previously reported (struggler throughout, pre-clinical struggler, clinical struggler, health-related struggler, borderline struggler) and to identify the majority using a number of flags for early difficulties. These flags included: missed attendance, unsatisfactory attitude or behaviour, health problems, social/family problems, failure to complete immunity status checks, and attendance at academic progress committee.
Problems encountered in a graduate-entry medicine course were comparable to those reported in a corresponding undergraduate programme. A toolkit of academic and non-academic flags of difficulty can be used for early identification of many who will struggle, and could be used to target appropriate support and interventions.
PMCID: PMC3567936  PMID: 23249471
Graduate-entry medicine struggler identification flags UK
9.  Medical students’ experiences learning intimate physical examination skills: a qualitative study 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:39.
Intimate physical examination skills are essential skills for any medical graduate to have mastered to an appropriate level for the safety of his or her future patients. Medical schools are entrusted with the complex task of teaching and assessing these skills for their students. The objectives of this study were to explore a range of medical students’ experiences of learning intimate physical examination skills and to explore their perceptions of factors which impede or promote the learning of these skills.
Individual semi-structured interviews (N = 16) were conducted with medical students in years two to five from the University of Newcastle, as part of a larger research project investigating how medical students develop their attitudes to gender and health. This was a self-selected sample of the entire cohort who were all invited to participate. A thematic analysis of the transcribed data was performed.
Students reported differing levels of discomfort with their learning experiences in the area of intimate physical examination and differing beliefs about the helpfulness of these experiences. The factors associated with levels of discomfort and the helpfulness of the experience for learning were: satisfaction with teaching techniques, dealing with an uncomfortable situation and perceived individual characteristics in both the patients and the students. The examination causing the greatest reported discomfort was the female pelvic examination by male students.
Student discomfort with the experience of learning intimate physical examination skills may be common and has ongoing repercussions for students and patients. Recommendations are made of ways to modify teaching technique to more closely match students’ perceived needs.
PMCID: PMC3943277  PMID: 24575827
Medical student; Intimate physical examination; Learning experiences; Teaching techniques
10.  Reflections of students graduating from a transforming medical curriculum in South Africa: a qualitative study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:49.
The six year medical programme at the University of the Witwatersrand admits students into the programme through two routes – school entrants and graduate entrants. Graduates join the school entrants in the third year of study in a transformed curriculum called the Graduate Entry Medical Programme (GEMP). In years I and 2 of the GEMP, the curriculum is structured into system based blocks. Problem-based learning, using a three session format, is applied in these two years. The curriculum adopts a biopsychosocial approach to health care, which is implemented through spiral teaching and learning in four main themes – basic and clinical sciences, patient-doctor, community- doctor and personal and professional development. In 2010 this programme produced its fifth cohort of graduates.
We undertook a qualitative, descriptive and contextual study to explore the graduating students’ perceptions of the programme. Interviews were conducted with a total of 35 participants who volunteered to participate in the study. The majority of the participants interviewed participated in focus group discussions. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically, using Tesch’s eight steps. Ethics approval for the study was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of the Witwatersrand. Participants provided written consent to participate in the interviews and for the interviews to be audio-taped.
Six themes were identified. These were: two separate programmes, problem-based learning and Garmins® (navigation system), see patients for real, being seen as doctors, assessment: of mice and MCQ’s, a cry for support and personal growth and pride. Participants were vocal in their reflections of experiences encountered during the programme and made several insightful suggestions for curriculum transformation. The findings suggest that graduates are exiting the programme confident and ready to begin their internships.
The findings of this study have identified a number of areas which need attention in the curriculum. Specifically attention needs to be given to ensuring that assessment is standardized; student support structures and appropriate levels of teaching. The study demonstrated the value of qualitative methods in obtaining students’ perceptions of a curriculum.
PMCID: PMC3460748  PMID: 22742710
11.  Characteristics of medical students who choose primary care as a career: the McMaster experience. 
We examined the relation between demographic characteristics and the career choices of medical students who entered McMaster University medical school between 1969 and 1975. In contrast to earlier work, this study found no significant differences in sex, age, marital status at the time of entry into medical school, undergraduate major, whether prerequisite premedical courses had been taken, undergraduate grade point average and academic performance between the graduates who chose primary care and those who chose a specialty. This suggests that many medical school graduates in the 1970s entered primary care by choice rather than by default.
PMCID: PMC1875882  PMID: 6692191
12.  Student Learning Outcomes and Attitudes When Biotechnology Lab Partners Are of Different Academic Levels 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2012;11(3):323-332.
The North Carolina State University Biotechnology Program offers laboratory-intensive courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. In “Manipulation and Expression of Recombinant DNA,” students are separated into undergraduate and graduate sections for the laboratory, but not the lecture, component. Evidence has shown that students prefer pairing with someone of the same academic level. However, retention of main ideas in peer learning environments has been shown to be greater when partners have dissimilar abilities. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that there will be enhanced student learning when lab partners are of different academic levels. We found that learning outcomes were met by both levels of student, regardless of pairing. Average undergraduate grades on every assessment method increased when undergraduates were paired with graduate students. Many of the average graduate student grades also increased modestly when graduate students were paired with undergraduates. Attitudes toward working with partners dramatically shifted toward favoring working with students of different academic levels. This work suggests that offering dual-level courses in which different-level partnerships are created does not inhibit learning by students of different academic levels. This format is useful for institutions that wish to offer “boutique” courses in which student enrollment may be low, but specialized equipment and faculty expertise are needed.
PMCID: PMC3433304  PMID: 22949428
13.  Simulated Patients vs. Standardized Patients in Objective Structured Clinical Examinations 
To describe the use of patient-actors as educators in a senior-level pharmacy practice course, and to contrast the value and application of “standardized patient” and “simulated patient” educational methodologies.
The objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) of the licensing examination were utilized during and at the end of the course along with external assessment to determine the impact of this educational methodology. Interviews with a randomly selected cohort of 14 students were undertaken 3 years after graduation and licensure to evaluate long-term impact of this course.
Overall, students responded positively to the shift from “standardized” patients to “simulated” patients, recognizing their value in teaching clinical and pharmaceutical care skills. Concerns were expressed regarding objectivity in assessment and individual grading. Over 98% of students successfully passed the OSCE component of the licensing examination. Long-term follow-up suggests students valued this approach to education and that it provided them with a foundation for better understanding of the psychosocial needs of patients in practice.
Simulated-patient educators can play an important role in the pharmacy curriculum, and can complement practitioner-educators in providing students with a real-world context for understanding complex patient care needs.
PMCID: PMC1636998  PMID: 17149448
clinical simulations; simulated patients; objective structured clinical examination
14.  Portfolio: A Comprehensive Method of Assessment for Postgraduates in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 
Post graduate learning and assessment is an important responsibility of an academic oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The current method of assessment for post graduate training include formative evaluation in the form of seminars, case presentations, log books and infrequently conducted end of year theory exams. End of the course theory and practical examination is a summative evaluation which awards the degree to the student based on grades obtained. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is mainly a skill based specialty and deliberate practice enhances skill. But the traditional system of assessment of post graduates emphasizes their performance on the summative exam which fails to evaluate the integral picture of the student throughout the course. Emphasis on competency and holistic growth of the post graduate student during training in recent years has lead to research and evaluation of assessment methods to quantify students’ progress during training. Portfolio method of assessment has been proposed as a potentially functional method for post graduate evaluation. It is defined as a collection of papers and other forms of evidence that learning has taken place. It allows the collation and integration of evidence on competence and performance from different sources to gain a comprehensive picture of everyday practice. The benefits of portfolio assessment in health professions education are twofold: it’s potential to assess performance and its potential to assess outcomes, such as attitudes and professionalism that are difficult to assess using traditional instruments. This paper is an endeavor for the development of portfolio method of assessment for post graduate student in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12663-012-0381-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3589504  PMID: 24431818
Oral and maxillofacial surgery; Post graduate; Assessment; Portfolio
15.  The Use of Virtual Laboratories and Other Web-based Tools in a Drug Assay Course 
Objective. To determine students’ perceptions of and performance in a drug assay laboratory course after the addition of Web-based multimedia tools.
Design. Video modules and other Web-based tools to deliver instructions and emulate the laboratory set up for experiments were implemented in 2005 to improve student preparation for laboratory sessions and eliminate the need for graduate students to present instructions live.
Assessment. Data gathered from quizzes, final examinations, and post-course surveys administered over 6 years were analyzed. Students’ scores on online quizzes after implementation of the virtual laboratories reflected improved student understanding and preparation. Students’ perception of the course improved significantly after the introduction of the tools and the new teaching model.
Conclusions. Implementation of an active-learning model in a laboratory course led to improvement in students’ educational experience and satisfaction. Additional benefits included improved resource use, student exposure to a variety of educational methods, and having a highly structured laboratory format that reduced inconsistencies in delivered instructions.
PMCID: PMC3386035  PMID: 22761525
drug assay; virtual laboratory; active learning; web-based instruction; internet
16.  Impact of extended course duration and stricter study organization on attrition and academic performance of medical students 
Croatian Medical Journal  2013;54(2):192-197.
To assess whether extended medical school duration, block/modular structure of subjects, not allowing students to transfer exams into the higher course year, and curriculum implementation in line with the Bologna Accord are associated with lower attrition and better academic outcomes of medical students.
We retrospectively investigated curricula at the University of Split School of Medicine and academic outcomes of 2301 medical students during a 33-year period (1979-2011). The following data were obtained: grade point average (GPA) at the end of the studies, duration of studies, graduation on time, and whether the student graduated or not.
After extension of medical curriculum from 5 to 6 years, students had significantly better grades (3.35 vs 3.68; P < 0.001), shorter study duration (7.0 vs 6.0 years; P < 0.001), and more students graduated on time (6.5% vs 57%; P < 0.001). Changes in the 6-year curriculum, such as stricter study regulations and adoption of Bologna Accord, were associated with better indicators of students’ academic success. The lowest attrition and the highest grades during the studied period were observed after the implementation of the Bologna Accord in 2005.
Introduction of a longer medical curriculum, block/modular subject structure, stricter regulations of exam transfer, and curriculum in line with the Bologna Accord may contribute to better academic outcomes and lower attrition of medical students.
PMCID: PMC3641877  PMID: 23630147
17.  An intercalated BSc degree is associated with higher marks in subsequent medical school examinations 
To compare medical students on a modern MBChB programme who did an optional intercalated degree with their peers who did not intercalate; in particular, to monitor performance in subsequent undergraduate degree exams.
This was a retrospective, observational study of anonymised databases of medical student assessment outcomes. Data were accessed for graduates, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Scotland, UK, from the years 2003 to 2007 (n = 861). The main outcome measure was marks for summative degree assessments taken after intercalating.
Of 861 medical students, 154 (17.9%) students did an intercalated degree. After adjustment for cohort, maturity, gender and baseline (3rd year) performance in matching exam type, having done an IC degree was significantly associated with attaining high (18–20) common assessment scale (CAS) marks in three of the six degree assessments occurring after the IC students rejoined the course: the 4th year written exam (p < 0.001), 4th year OSCE (p = 0.001) and the 5th year Elective project (p = 0.010).
Intercalating was associated with improved performance in Years 4 and 5 of the MBChB. This improved performance will further contribute to higher academic ranking for Foundation Year posts. Long-term follow-up is required to identify if doing an optional intercalated degree as part of a modern medical degree is associated with following a career in academic medicine.
PMCID: PMC2689211  PMID: 19454007
18.  Standardized Patients to Teach Medical Students about Intimate Partner Violence 
To use 360-degree evaluations within an Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) to assess medical student comfort level and communication skills with intimate partner violence (IPV) patients.
We assessed a cohort of fourth year medical students’ performance using an IPV standardized patient (SP) encounter in an OSCE. Blinded pre- and post-tests determined the students’ knowledge and comfort level with core IPV assessment. Students, SPs and investigators completed a 360-degree evaluation that focused on each student’s communication and competency skills. We computed frequencies, means and correlations.
Forty-one students participated in the SP exercise during three separate evaluation periods. Results noted insignificant increase in students’ comfort level pre-test (2.7) and post-test (2.9). Although 88% of students screened for IPV and 98% asked about the injury, only 39% asked about verbal abuse, 17% asked if the patient had a safety plan, and 13% communicated to the patient that IPV is illegal. Using Likert scoring on the competency and overall evaluation (1, very poor and 5, very good), the mean score for each evaluator was 4.1 (competency) and 3.7 (overall). The correlations between trainee comfort level and the specific competencies of patient care, communication skill and professionalism were positive and significant (p<0.05).
Students felt somewhat comfortable caring for patients with IPV. OSCEs with SPs can be used to assess student competencies in caring for patients with IPV.
PMCID: PMC3027446  PMID: 21293773
19.  Role of SimMan in teaching clinical skills to preclinical medical students 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:20.
Simulation training has potential in developing clinical skills in pre-clinical medical students, but there is little evidence on its effectiveness.
Twenty four first year graduate entry preclinical medical students participated in this crossover study. They were divided into two groups, one performed chest examination on each other and the other used SimMan. The groups then crossed over. A pretest, midtest and post-test was conducted in which the students answered the same questionnaire with ten questions on knowledge, and confidence levels rated using a 5 point Likert scale. They were assessed formatively using the OSCE marking scheme. At the end of the session, 23 students completed a feedback questionnaire. Data was analyzed using one-way ANOVA and independent t-test.
When the two groups were compared, there was no significant difference in the pretest and the post-test scores on knowledge questions whereas the midtest scores increased significantly (P< 0.001) with the group using SimMan initially scoring higher. A significant increase in the test scores was seen between the pre-test and the mid-test for this group (P=0.009). There was a similar albeit non significant trend between the midtest and the post-test for the group using peer examination initially.
Mean confidence ratings increased from the pretest to midtest and then further in the post-test for both groups. Their confidence ratings increased significantly in differentiating between normal and abnormal signs [Group starting with SimMan, between pretest and midtest (P= 0.01) and group starting with peer examination, between midtest and post-test (P=0.02)]. When the students’ ability to perform examination on each other for both groups was compared, there was a significant increase in the scores of the group starting with SimMan (P=0.007).
This pilot study demonstrated a significant improvement in the students’ knowledge and competence to perform chest examination after simulation with an increase in the student’s perceived levels of confidence. Feedback from the students was extremely positive. SimMan acts as a useful adjunct to teach clinical skills to preclinical medical students by providing a simulated safe environment and thus aids in bridging the gap between the preclinical and clinical years in medical undergraduate education.
PMCID: PMC3572432  PMID: 23394435
20.  When did they leave, and why? A retrospective case study of attrition on the Nottingham undergraduate medical course 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:43.
As part of a wider study into students who experience difficulties, we examined the course files of those who had failed to graduate. This was an exploratory, descriptive study investigating how many students left after academic failure or non-academic problems, or simply changed their minds about reading medicine, and at what stage. The aim of the study was to increase our knowledge about the timings of, and reasons for, attrition. This understanding might help to reduce student loss in the future, by informing selection procedures and improving pastoral support at critical times. It might also assist in long-term workforce planning in the NHS.
Relevant data on admission and course progress were extracted manually from the archived files of students who had failed to graduate from five recent consecutive cohorts (entry in 2000–2004 inclusive), using a customised Access database. Discrete categories of information were supplemented with free text entries.
1188 students registered over the five-year entry period and 73 (6%) failed to graduate. The highest rates of attrition (46/1188, 4%) occurred during the first two years (largely preclinical studies), with 34 students leaving voluntarily, including 11 within the first semester, and 12 having their courses terminated for academic failure. Seventeen left at the end of the third year (Honours course plus early clinical practice) and the remaining ten during the final two clinical years. The reasons for attrition were not always clear-cut and often involved a mixture of academic, personal, social and health factors, especially mental health problems.
The causes of attrition are complex. A small number of students with clear academic failure might require individual educational interventions for remediation. However, this could have substantial resource implications for the Faculty. Mental health problems predominate in late course attrition and may have been undisclosed for some time. The introduction of a structured exit interview may provide further insight, especially for those students who leave suddenly and unexpectedly early in the course.
PMCID: PMC3461480  PMID: 22716903
Medical students; Course attrition; Academic failure; Mental health; Pastoral care
21.  Predictors of Student Success in Graduate Biomedical Informatics Training: Introductory Course and Program Success 
To predict student performance in an introductory graduate-level biomedical informatics course from application data.
A predictive model built through retrospective review of student records using hierarchical binary logistic regression with half of the sample held back for cross-validation. The model was also validated against student data from a similar course at a second institution.
Earning an A grade (Mastery) or a C grade (Failure) in an introductory informatics course.
The authors analyzed 129 student records at the University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston (SHIS) and 106 at Oregon Health and Science University Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology (DMICE). In the SHIS cross-validation sample, the Graduate Record Exam verbal score (GRE-V) correctly predicted Mastery in 69.4%. Undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) and underrepresented minority status (URMS) predicted 81.6% of Failures. At DMICE, GRE-V, UGPA, and prior graduate degree significantly correlated with Mastery. Only GRE-V was a significant independent predictor of Mastery at both institutions. There were too few URMS students and Failures at DMICE to analyze. Course Mastery strongly predicted program performance defined as final cumulative GPA at SHIS (n = 19, r = 0.634, r 2 = 0.40, p = 0.0036) and DMICE (n = 106, r = 0.603, r 2 = 0.36, p < 0.001).
The authors identified predictors of performance in an introductory informatics course including GRE-V, UGPA and URMS. Course performance was a very strong predictor of overall program performance. Findings may be useful for selecting students for admission and identifying students at risk for Failure as early as possible.
PMCID: PMC3002135  PMID: 19717804
22.  Graduate Entry Medicine: Selection Criteria and Student Performance 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27161.
Graduate entry medicine raises new questions about the suitability of students with different backgrounds. We examine this, and the broader issue of effectiveness of selection and assessment procedures.
The data included background characteristics, academic record, interview score and performance in pre-clinical modular assessment for two years intake of graduate entry medical students. Exploratory factor analysis is a powerful method for reducing a large number of measures to a smaller group of underlying factors. It was used here to identify patterns within and between the selection and performance data.
Principal Findings
Basic background characteristics were of little importance in predicting exam success. However, easily interpreted components were detected within variables comprising the ‘selection’ and ‘assessment’ criteria. Three selection components were identified (‘Academic’, ‘GAMSAT’, ‘Interview’) and four assessment components (‘General Exam’, ‘Oncology’, ‘OSCE’, ‘Family Case Study’). There was a striking lack of relationships between most selection and performance factors. Only ‘General Exam’ and ‘Academic’ showed a correlation (Pearson's r = 0.55, p<0.001).
This study raises questions about methods of student selection and their effectiveness in predicting performance and assessing suitability for a medical career. Admissions tests and most exams only confirmed previous academic achievement, while interview scores were not correlated with any consequent assessment.
PMCID: PMC3221664  PMID: 22132089
23.  Requirements for admission to medical school: how many years of university study are necessary? 
OBJECTIVE: To assess whether students admitted to medical school after completing 2 years of undergraduate study performed as well as those admitted after longer periods of undergraduate study in terms of broad patient-care skills measured at the time of graduation. DESIGN: Retrospective study. SETTING: University of Alberta, Edmonton. PARTICIPANTS: Graduates of the classes of 1990 and 1991, of the 226 graduates 133 had entered medical school after 2 years of undergraduate training, 39 after 3 years and 54 after 4 or more years. Eight students had been excluded because they were either transfer students or international students. OUTCOME MEASURES: Objective and subjective assessments of the main clinical rotations (internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiology and surgery), results of the faculty's final comprehensive examination and of the Medical Council of Canada's Qualifying Examination. RESULTS: The students who had completed 2 years of undergraduate study before medical school were significantly younger than those who had completed 3 years and those who had completed 4 or more years (mean age [and standard deviation (SD)] 20.5 [2.1], 21.5 [2.4] and 25.1 [4.4] years respectively, p < 0.001). They also had a significantly higher mean grade point average (GPA) for the prerequisite courses for admission to medical school than those with 3 years and those with 4 or more years of undergraduate study (8.26 [SD 0.3], 7.95 [SD 0.3] and 7.80 [SD 0.5] respectively, p < 0.001). The overall mean GPA for the best 2 years of undergraduate study did not differ significantly between the three groups. The students with 2 years of undergraduate study had a significantly lower mean score for the pre-entry interview than those who had 4 or more years of undergraduate study (32.1 [SD 7.6] v. 38.3 [SD 8.5], p < 0.001). There were no significant differences between the three groups in the results of any of the subjective or objective outcome measures. CONCLUSION: Students who completed 2 years of undergraduate study before admission to medical school were able to achieve a satisfactory level of competency and maturity by the end of medical school. The 2-year option for entrance into medical school should be reconsidered.
PMCID: PMC1488032  PMID: 7489552
24.  A Shared Assignment to Integrate Pharmaceutics and Pharmacy Practice Course Concepts 
To demonstrate for first-year pharmacy students the relevance of pharmaceutics course content to pharmacy practice by implementing a joint, integrated assignment in both courses and assessing its impact.
Medication errors and patient safety issues relevant to ophthalmic and otic formulations were selected as the assignment topic. A homework assignment based on a mock court case involving a patient who was given an inappropriate formulation because of a pharmacist's medication error was given to students. The scenario was followed by essay and calculation questions linking physical pharmacy concepts with patient safety recommendations.
Students’ average score on the crossover assignment was 88.7%. Minute papers completed before and after the assignment showed improvement in student learning. Students’ scores on examination questions related to the assignment topic were significantly higher than the previous year's students’ performance on similar questions. In a survey conducted at the end of the semester, 91% of students indicated that the assignment helped them relate the covered topics to future practice, and 98% agreed that the assignment emphasized the importance of the pharmaceutics in professional practice.
A crossover assignment was an effective means of demonstrating the connection between specific pharmaceutics concepts and practice applications to pharmacy students.
PMCID: PMC3109798  PMID: 21655398
pharmaceutics; pharmacy practice; curriculum integration; ophthalmic medications; otic medication; course integration
25.  An Elective Course on the Basic and Clinical Sciences Aspects of Vitamins and Minerals 
Objective. To develop and implement an elective course on vitamins and minerals and their usefulness as dietary supplements.
Design. A 2-credit-hour elective course designed to provide students with the most up-to-date basic and clinical science information on vitamins and minerals was developed and implemented in the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. In addition to classroom lectures, an active-learning component was incorporated in the course in the form of group discussion.
Assessment. Student learning was demonstrated by examination scores. Performance on pre- and post-course surveys administered in 2011 demonstrated a significant increase in students’ knowledge of the basic and clinical science aspects of vitamins and minerals, with average scores increasing from 61% to 86%. At the end of the semester, students completed a standard course evaluation.
Conclusion. An elective course on vitamin and mineral supplements was well received by pharmacy students and helped them to acquire knowledge and competence in patient counseling regarding safe, appropriate, effective, and economical use of these products.
PMCID: PMC3578330  PMID: 23463149
vitamins; minerals; dietary supplements; pharmacy curriculum; elective course

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