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1.  Construct-level predictive validity of educational attainment and intellectual aptitude tests in medical student selection: meta-regression of six UK longitudinal studies 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:243.
Background
Measures used for medical student selection should predict future performance during training. A problem for any selection study is that predictor-outcome correlations are known only in those who have been selected, whereas selectors need to know how measures would predict in the entire pool of applicants. That problem of interpretation can be solved by calculating construct-level predictive validity, an estimate of true predictor-outcome correlation across the range of applicant abilities.
Methods
Construct-level predictive validities were calculated in six cohort studies of medical student selection and training (student entry, 1972 to 2009) for a range of predictors, including A-levels, General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs)/O-levels, and aptitude tests (AH5 and UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT)). Outcomes included undergraduate basic medical science and finals assessments, as well as postgraduate measures of Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom (MRCP(UK)) performance and entry in the Specialist Register. Construct-level predictive validity was calculated with the method of Hunter, Schmidt and Le (2006), adapted to correct for right-censorship of examination results due to grade inflation.
Results
Meta-regression analyzed 57 separate predictor-outcome correlations (POCs) and construct-level predictive validities (CLPVs). Mean CLPVs are substantially higher (.450) than mean POCs (.171). Mean CLPVs for first-year examinations, were high for A-levels (.809; CI: .501 to .935), and lower for GCSEs/O-levels (.332; CI: .024 to .583) and UKCAT (mean = .245; CI: .207 to .276). A-levels had higher CLPVs for all undergraduate and postgraduate assessments than did GCSEs/O-levels and intellectual aptitude tests. CLPVs of educational attainment measures decline somewhat during training, but continue to predict postgraduate performance. Intellectual aptitude tests have lower CLPVs than A-levels or GCSEs/O-levels.
Conclusions
Educational attainment has strong CLPVs for undergraduate and postgraduate performance, accounting for perhaps 65% of true variance in first year performance. Such CLPVs justify the use of educational attainment measure in selection, but also raise a key theoretical question concerning the remaining 35% of variance (and measurement error, range restriction and right-censorship have been taken into account). Just as in astrophysics, ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ are posited to balance various theoretical equations, so medical student selection must also have its ‘dark variance’, whose nature is not yet properly characterized, but explains a third of the variation in performance during training. Some variance probably relates to factors which are unpredictable at selection, such as illness or other life events, but some is probably also associated with factors such as personality, motivation or study skills.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-243
PMCID: PMC3827328  PMID: 24229353
Medical student selection; Undergraduate performance; Postgraduate performance; Educational attainment; Aptitude tests; Criterion-related construct validity; Range restriction; Right censorship; Grade inflation; Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm
2.  The Academic Backbone: longitudinal continuities in educational achievement from secondary school and medical school to MRCP(UK) and the specialist register in UK medical students and doctors 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:242.
Background
Selection of medical students in the UK is still largely based on prior academic achievement, although doubts have been expressed as to whether performance in earlier life is predictive of outcomes later in medical school or post-graduate education. This study analyses data from five longitudinal studies of UK medical students and doctors from the early 1970s until the early 2000s. Two of the studies used the AH5, a group test of general intelligence (that is, intellectual aptitude). Sex and ethnic differences were also analyzed in light of the changing demographics of medical students over the past decades.
Methods
Data from five cohort studies were available: the Westminster Study (began clinical studies from 1975 to 1982), the 1980, 1985, and 1990 cohort studies (entered medical school in 1981, 1986, and 1991), and the University College London Medical School (UCLMS) Cohort Study (entered clinical studies in 2005 and 2006). Different studies had different outcome measures, but most had performance on basic medical sciences and clinical examinations at medical school, performance in Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (MRCP(UK)) examinations, and being on the General Medical Council Specialist Register.
Results
Correlation matrices and path analyses are presented. There were robust correlations across different years at medical school, and medical school performance also predicted MRCP(UK) performance and being on the GMC Specialist Register. A-levels correlated somewhat less with undergraduate and post-graduate performance, but there was restriction of range in entrants. General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)/O-level results also predicted undergraduate and post-graduate outcomes, but less so than did A-level results, but there may be incremental validity for clinical and post-graduate performance. The AH5 had some significant correlations with outcome, but they were inconsistent. Sex and ethnicity also had predictive effects on measures of educational attainment, undergraduate, and post-graduate performance. Women performed better in assessments but were less likely to be on the Specialist Register. Non-white participants generally underperformed in undergraduate and post-graduate assessments, but were equally likely to be on the Specialist Register. There was a suggestion of smaller ethnicity effects in earlier studies.
Conclusions
The existence of the Academic Backbone concept is strongly supported, with attainment at secondary school predicting performance in undergraduate and post-graduate medical assessments, and the effects spanning many years. The Academic Backbone is conceptualized in terms of the development of more sophisticated underlying structures of knowledge ('cognitive capital’ and 'medical capital’). The Academic Backbone provides strong support for using measures of educational attainment, particularly A-levels, in student selection.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-242
PMCID: PMC3827330  PMID: 24229333
Academic Backbone; Secondary school attainment; Undergraduate medical education; Post-graduate medical education; Longitudinal analyses; Continuities; Medical student selection; Cognitive capital; Medical capital; Aptitude tests
3.  Resitting a high-stakes postgraduate medical examination on multiple occasions: nonlinear multilevel modelling of performance in the MRCP(UK) examinations 
BMC Medicine  2012;10:60.
Background
Failure rates in postgraduate examinations are often high and many candidates therefore retake examinations on several or even many times. Little, however, is known about how candidates perform across those multiple attempts. A key theoretical question to be resolved is whether candidates pass at a resit because they have got better, having acquired more knowledge or skills, or whether they have got lucky, chance helping them to get over the pass mark. In the UK, the issue of resits has become of particular interest since the General Medical Council issued a consultation and is considering limiting the number of attempts candidates may make at examinations.
Methods
Since 1999 the examination for Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom (MRCP(UK)) has imposed no limit on the number of attempts candidates can make at its Part 1, Part2 or PACES (Clinical) examination. The present study examined the performance of candidates on the examinations from 2002/2003 to 2010, during which time the examination structure has been stable. Data were available for 70,856 attempts at Part 1 by 39,335 candidates, 37,654 attempts at Part 2 by 23,637 candidates and 40,303 attempts at PACES by 21,270 candidates, with the maximum number of attempts being 26, 21 and 14, respectively. The results were analyzed using multilevel modelling, fitting negative exponential growth curves to individual candidate performance.
Results
The number of candidates taking the assessment falls exponentially at each attempt. Performance improves across attempts, with evidence in the Part 1 examination that candidates are still improving up to the tenth attempt, with a similar improvement up to the fourth attempt in Part 2 and the sixth attempt at PACES. Random effects modelling shows that candidates begin at a starting level, with performance increasing by a smaller amount at each attempt, with evidence of a maximum, asymptotic level for candidates, and candidates showing variation in starting level, rate of improvement and maximum level. Modelling longitudinal performance across the three diets (sittings) shows that the starting level at Part 1 predicts starting level at both Part 2 and PACES, and the rate of improvement at Part 1 also predicts the starting level at Part 2 and PACES.
Conclusion
Candidates continue to show evidence of true improvement in performance up to at least the tenth attempt at MRCP(UK) Part 1, although there are individual differences in the starting level, the rate of improvement and the maximum level that can be achieved. Such findings provide little support for arguments that candidates should only be allowed a fixed number of attempts at an examination. However, unlimited numbers of attempts are also difficult to justify because of the inevitable and ever increasing role that luck must play with increasing numbers of resits, so that the issue of multiple attempts might be better addressed by tackling the difficult question of how a pass mark should increase with each attempt at an exam.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-60
PMCID: PMC3394208  PMID: 22697599
4.  The standard error of measurement is a more appropriate measure of quality for postgraduate medical assessments than is reliability: an analysis of MRCP(UK) examinations 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:40.
Background
Cronbach's alpha is widely used as the preferred index of reliability for medical postgraduate examinations. A value of 0.8-0.9 is seen by providers and regulators alike as an adequate demonstration of acceptable reliability for any assessment. Of the other statistical parameters, Standard Error of Measurement (SEM) is mainly seen as useful only in determining the accuracy of a pass mark. However the alpha coefficient depends both on SEM and on the ability range (standard deviation, SD) of candidates taking an exam. This study investigated the extent to which the necessarily narrower ability range in candidates taking the second of the three part MRCP(UK) diploma examinations, biases assessment of reliability and SEM.
Methods
a) The interrelationships of standard deviation (SD), SEM and reliability were investigated in a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 candidates taking a postgraduate examination. b) Reliability and SEM were studied in the MRCP(UK) Part 1 and Part 2 Written Examinations from 2002 to 2008. c) Reliability and SEM were studied in eight Specialty Certificate Examinations introduced in 2008-9.
Results
The Monte Carlo simulation showed, as expected, that restricting the range of an assessment only to those who had already passed it, dramatically reduced the reliability but did not affect the SEM of a simulated assessment. The analysis of the MRCP(UK) Part 1 and Part 2 written examinations showed that the MRCP(UK) Part 2 written examination had a lower reliability than the Part 1 examination, but, despite that lower reliability, the Part 2 examination also had a smaller SEM (indicating a more accurate assessment). The Specialty Certificate Examinations had small Ns, and as a result, wide variability in their reliabilities, but SEMs were comparable with MRCP(UK) Part 2.
Conclusions
An emphasis upon assessing the quality of assessments primarily in terms of reliability alone can produce a paradoxical and distorted picture, particularly in the situation where a narrower range of candidate ability is an inevitable consequence of being able to take a second part examination only after passing the first part examination. Reliability also shows problems when numbers of candidates in examinations are low and sampling error affects the range of candidate ability. SEM is not subject to such problems; it is therefore a better measure of the quality of an assessment and is recommended for routine use.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-40
PMCID: PMC2893515  PMID: 20525220
5.  The educational background and qualifications of UK medical students from ethnic minorities 
Background
UK medical students and doctors from ethnic minorities underperform in undergraduate and postgraduate examinations. Although it is assumed that white (W) and non-white (NW) students enter medical school with similar qualifications, neither the qualifications of NW students, nor their educational background have been looked at in detail. This study uses two large-scale databases to examine the educational attainment of W and NW students.
Methods
Attainment at GCSE and A level, and selection for medical school in relation to ethnicity, were analysed in two separate databases. The 10th cohort of the Youth Cohort Study provided data on 13,698 students taking GCSEs in 1999 in England and Wales, and their subsequent progression to A level. UCAS provided data for 1,484,650 applicants applying for admission to UK universities and colleges in 2003, 2004 and 2005, of whom 52,557 applied to medical school, and 23,443 were accepted.
Results
NW students achieve lower grades at GCSE overall, although achievement at the highest grades was similar to that of W students. NW students have higher educational aspirations, being more likely to go on to take A levels, especially in science and particularly chemistry, despite relatively lower achievement at GCSE. As a result, NW students perform less well at A level than W students, and hence NW students applying to university also have lower A-level grades than W students, both generally, and for medical school applicants. NW medical school entrants have lower A level grades than W entrants, with an effect size of about -0.10.
Conclusion
The effect size for the difference between white and non-white medical school entrants is about B0.10, which would mean that for a typical medical school examination there might be about 5 NW failures for each 4 W failures. However, this effect can only explain a portion of the overall effect size found in undergraduate and postgraduate examinations of about -0.32.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-21
PMCID: PMC2359745  PMID: 18416818
6.  Graduates of different UK medical schools show substantial differences in performance on MRCP(UK) Part 1, Part 2 and PACES examinations 
BMC Medicine  2008;6:5.
Background
The UK General Medical Council has emphasized the lack of evidence on whether graduates from different UK medical schools perform differently in their clinical careers. Here we assess the performance of UK graduates who have taken MRCP(UK) Part 1 and Part 2, which are multiple-choice assessments, and PACES, an assessment using real and simulated patients of clinical examination skills and communication skills, and we explore the reasons for the differences between medical schools.
Method
We perform a retrospective analysis of the performance of 5827 doctors graduating in UK medical schools taking the Part 1, Part 2 or PACES for the first time between 2003/2 and 2005/3, and 22453 candidates taking Part 1 from 1989/1 to 2005/3.
Results
Graduates of UK medical schools performed differently in the MRCP(UK) examination between 2003/2 and 2005/3. Part 1 and 2 performance of Oxford, Cambridge and Newcastle-upon-Tyne graduates was significantly better than average, and the performance of Liverpool, Dundee, Belfast and Aberdeen graduates was significantly worse than average. In the PACES (clinical) examination, Oxford graduates performed significantly above average, and Dundee, Liverpool and London graduates significantly below average. About 60% of medical school variance was explained by differences in pre-admission qualifications, although the remaining variance was still significant, with graduates from Leicester, Oxford, Birmingham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and London overperforming at Part 1, and graduates from Southampton, Dundee, Aberdeen, Liverpool and Belfast underperforming relative to pre-admission qualifications. The ranking of schools at Part 1 in 2003/2 to 2005/3 correlated 0.723, 0.654, 0.618 and 0.493 with performance in 1999–2001, 1996–1998, 1993–1995 and 1989–1992, respectively.
Conclusion
Candidates from different UK medical schools perform differently in all three parts of the MRCP(UK) examination, with the ordering consistent across the parts of the exam and with the differences in Part 1 performance being consistent from 1989 to 2005. Although pre-admission qualifications explained some of the medical school variance, the remaining differences do not seem to result from career preference or other selection biases, and are presumed to result from unmeasured differences in ability at entry to the medical school or to differences between medical schools in teaching focus, content and approaches. Exploration of causal mechanisms would be enhanced by results from a national medical qualifying examination.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-6-5
PMCID: PMC2265293  PMID: 18275598
7.  Living with primary ciliary dyskinesia: a prospective qualitative study of knowledge sharing, symptom concealment, embarrassment, mistrust, and stigma 
Background
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is a chronic respiratory disease for which there is little psycho-social research and no qualitative studies of individuals living with the condition. A questionnaire-based survey in 2003 found evidence of stigmatisation in some individuals with PCD. Although the questionnaire had face and construct validity, stigmatisation was not cross-validated against interviews. The present study had the twin aims of carrying out a qualitative study of the adult patients living with PCD, and using a structured design to validate the questionnaire measure of stigma.
Methods
Interviews were carried out with six pairs of individuals with PCD, matched for sex, situs, and age, one with a high stigma score in 2003 and the other with a low stigma score. Depth-qualitative interviews were conducted by one author to explore themes surrounding the psycho-social impact of PCD using a grounded theory analysis. The interviewer was blind to the stigma scores of participants, and after the qualitative analysis was completed, the interviewer made an assessment of which member of each pair seemed the more stigmatised, after which the code was broken.
Results
Interviews revealed a number of themes, including other people's knowledge of PCD, the sharing of knowledge about PCD, the concealment of symptoms of PCD, embarrassment at symptoms, changes of behaviour in response to PCD, mistrust of medical care, in particular in relation to problems in diagnosis, a mistrust of general practitioners who were seen as poorly informed, and the importance of expert care at tertiary referral centres. Although stigmatisation as such was rarely mentioned directly by respondents, when the interviewer's judgement on level of stigmatisation was correlated with stigma scores from 2003, it was found that the more stigmatised member had been correctly identified in all six pairs (p = .016).
Conclusion
Our results suggest that some people with PCD feel isolated through mistrust in medicine, and lack of knowledge surrounding PCD. Many responses to PCD can be explained in terms of stigmatisation, and in particular felt stigma. The correlation between questionnaire used several years previously, and the interviewer's judgements of stigmatisation suggest that the stigma questionnaire had both predictive validity and long-term stability. As in other chronic conditions, stigmatisation occurs only in some individuals with PCD, and the present study explores the basis of stigmatisation, and validate the questionnaire as a measure of difference in stigma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2466-6-25
PMCID: PMC1635565  PMID: 17040569
8.  Assessment of examiner leniency and stringency ('hawk-dove effect') in the MRCP(UK) clinical examination (PACES) using multi-facet Rasch modelling 
Background
A potential problem of clinical examinations is known as the hawk-dove problem, some examiners being more stringent and requiring a higher performance than other examiners who are more lenient. Although the problem has been known qualitatively for at least a century, we know of no previous statistical estimation of the size of the effect in a large-scale, high-stakes examination. Here we use FACETS to carry out a multi-facet Rasch modelling of the paired judgements made by examiners in the clinical examination (PACES) of MRCP(UK), where identical candidates were assessed in identical situations, allowing calculation of examiner stringency.
Methods
Data were analysed from the first nine diets of PACES, which were taken between June 2001 and March 2004 by 10,145 candidates. Each candidate was assessed by two examiners on each of seven separate tasks. with the candidates assessed by a total of 1,259 examiners, resulting in a total of 142,030 marks. Examiner demographics were described in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, and total number of candidates examined.
Results
FACETS suggested that about 87% of main effect variance was due to candidate differences, 1% due to station differences, and 12% due to differences between examiners in leniency-stringency. Multiple regression suggested that greater examiner stringency was associated with greater examiner experience and being from an ethnic minority. Male and female examiners showed no overall difference in stringency. Examination scores were adjusted for examiner stringency and it was shown that for the present pass mark, the outcome for 95.9% of candidates would be unchanged using adjusted marks, whereas 2.6% of candidates would have passed, even though they had failed on the basis of raw marks, and 1.5% of candidates would have failed, despite passing on the basis of raw marks.
Conclusion
Examiners do differ in their leniency or stringency, and the effect can be estimated using Rasch modelling. The reasons for differences are not clear, but there are some demographic correlates, and the effects appear to be reliable across time. Account can be taken of differences, either by adjusting marks or, perhaps more effectively and more justifiably, by pairing high and low stringency examiners, so that raw marks can be used in the determination of pass and fail.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-42
PMCID: PMC1569374  PMID: 16919156
9.  The attractions of medicine: the generic motivations of medical school applicants in relation to demography, personality and achievement 
Background
The motivational and other factors used by medical students in making their career choices for specific medical specialities have been looked at in a number of studies in the literature. There are however few studies that assess the generic factors which make medicine itself of interest to medical students and to potential medical students. This study describes a novel questionnaire that assesses the interests and attractions of different aspects of medical practice in a varied range of medical scenarios, and relates them to demographic, academic, personality and learning style measures in a large group of individuals considering applying to medical school.
Methods
A questionnaire study was conducted among those attending Medlink, a two-day conference for individuals considering applying to medical school for a career in medicine. The main outcome measure was the Medical Situations Questionnaire, in which individuals ranked the attraction of three different aspects of medical practise in each of nine detailed, realistic medical scenarios in a wide range of medical specialities. As well as requiring clear choices, the questionnaire was also designed so that all of the possible answers were attractive and positive, thereby helping to eliminate social demand characteristics. Factor analysis of the responses found four generic motivational dimensions, which we labelled Indispensability, Helping People, Respect and Science. Background factors assessed included sex, ethnicity, class, medical parents, GCSE academic achievement, the 'Big Five' personality factors, empathy, learning styles, and a social desirability scale.
Results
2867 individuals, broadly representative of applicants to medical schools, completed the questionnaire. The four generic motivational factors correlated with a range of background factors. These correlations were explored by multiple regression, and by path analysis, using LISREL to assess direct and indirect effects upon the factors. Helping People was particularly related to agreeableness; Indispensability to a strategic approach to learning; Respect to a surface approach to learning; and Science to openness to experience. Sex had many indirect influences upon generic motivations. Ethnic origin also had indirect influences via neuroticism and surface learning, and social class only had indirect influences via lower academic achievement. Coming from a medical family had no influence upon generic motivations.
Conclusion
Generic motivations for medicine as a career can be assessed using the Medical Situations Questionnaire, without undue response bias due to demand characteristics. The validity of the motivational factors is suggested by the meaningful and interpretable correlations with background factors such as demographics, personality, and learning styles. Further development of the questionnaire is needed if it is to be used at an individual level, either for counselling or for student selection.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-11
PMCID: PMC1397825  PMID: 16504048
10.  Unhappiness and dissatisfaction in doctors cannot be predicted by selectors from medical school application forms: A prospective, longitudinal study 
Background
Personal statements and referees' reports are widely used on medical school application forms, particularly in the UK, to assess the suitability of candidates for a career in medicine. However there are few studies which assess the validity of such information for predicting unhappiness or dissatisfaction with a career in medicine. Here we combine data from a long-term prospective study of medical student selection and training, with an experimental approach in which a large number of assessors used a paired comparison technique to predict outcome.
Methods
Data from a large-scale prospective study of students applying to UK medical schools in 1990 were used to identify 40 pairs of doctors, matched by sex, for whom personal statements and referees' reports were available, and who in a 2002/3 follow-up study, one pair member was very satisfied and the other very dissatisfied with medicine as a career. In 2005, 96 assessors, who were experienced medical school selectors, doctors, medical students or psychology students, used information from the doctors' original applications to judge which member of each pair of doctors was the happier, more satisfied doctor.
Results
None of the groups of assessors were significantly different from chance expectations in using applicants' personal statements and the referees' reports to predict actual future satisfaction or dissatisfaction, the distribution being similar to binomial expectations. However judgements of pairs of application forms from pairs of doctors showed a non-binomial distribution, indicating consensus among assessors as to which doctor would be the happy doctor (although the consensus was wrong in half the cases). Assessors taking longer to do the task concurred more. Consensus judgements seem mainly to be based on referees' predictions of academic achievement (even though academic achievement is not actually a valid predictor of happiness or satisfaction).
Conclusion
Although widely used in medical student selection to assess motivation, interest and commitment to a medical career, the personal statement and the referee's report cannot validly be used by assessors, including experienced medical school selectors, to identify doctors who will subsequently be dissatisfied with a medical career.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-5-38
PMCID: PMC1325230  PMID: 16351718
11.  Changes in standard of candidates taking the MRCP(UK) Part 1 examination, 1985 to 2002: Analysis of marker questions 
BMC Medicine  2005;3:13.
Background
The maintenance of standards is a problem for postgraduate medical examinations, particularly if they use norm-referencing as the sole method of standard setting. In each of its diets, the MRCP(UK) Part 1 Examination includes a number of marker questions, which are unchanged from their use in a previous diet. This paper describes two complementary studies of marker questions for 52 diets of the MRCP(UK) Part 1 Examination over the years 1985 to 2001 to assess whether standards have changed.
Methods
Study 1, which used routinely collected information on the performance of 4405 marker items, used a statistical method to assess changes in performance across diets. Study 2 compared performances of individual candidates on 28 individual marker items that were shared by the 1996/2 and 2001/3 diets.
Results
Study 1 found evidence that candidate performance on the MRCP(UK) Part 1 Examination showed a gradual improvement over the period 1985 to 1997, which was followed by a sharp decline in performance until 2001. The 'dog-leg' in performance at 1997/3 was not an artefact of changed Examination Regulations, mix of UK and overseas candidates, or time from qualification until taking the Examination. Study 2 confirmed that performance in 2001/3 was significantly worse than in 1996/3, that the poorer performance was found in graduates of UK medical schools, and that candidates passing the Examination in 2001/3 performed less well than those passing in 1996/2.
Conclusion
There has been a decline in the performance of graduates from UK medical schools taking the MRCP(UK) Part 1 examination. The reasons for this are not clear, but the finding has implications for medical education, and further studies are needed of performance in other postgraduate and undergraduate examinations. The use of norm-referencing as the sole method for setting the pass mark over this period meant that candidates passing the MRCP(UK) examination also had a lower standard. The MRCP(UK) Part 1 and Part 2 examinations now have their standard set by criterion-referencing.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-3-13
PMCID: PMC1185541  PMID: 16026607
12.  Mapping medical careers: Questionnaire assessment of career preferences in medical school applicants and final-year students 
Background
The medical specialities chosen by doctors for their careers play an important part in the workforce planning of health-care services. However, there is little theoretical understanding of how different medical specialities are perceived or how choices are made, despite there being much work in general on this topic in occupational psychology, which is influenced by Holland's RIASEC (Realistic-Investigative-Artistic-Social-Enterprising-Conventional) typology of careers, and Gottfredson's model of circumscription and compromise. In this study, we use three large-scale cohorts of medical students to produce maps of medical careers.
Methods
Information on between 24 and 28 specialities was collected in three UK cohorts of medical students (1981, 1986 and 1991 entry), in applicants (1981 and 1986 cohorts, N = 1135 and 2032) or entrants (1991 cohort, N = 2973) and in final-year students (N = 330, 376, and 1437). Mapping used Individual Differences Scaling (INDSCAL) on sub-groups broken down by age and sex. The method was validated in a population sample using a full range of careers, and demonstrating that the RIASEC structure could be extracted.
Results
Medical specialities in each cohort, at application and in the final-year, were well represented by a two-dimensional space. The representations showed a close similarity to Holland's RIASEC typology, with the main orthogonal dimensions appearing similar to Prediger's derived orthogonal dimensions of 'Things-People' and 'Data-Ideas'.
Conclusions
There are close parallels between Holland's general typology of careers, and the structure we have found in medical careers. Medical specialities typical of Holland's six RIASEC categories are Surgery (Realistic), Hospital Medicine (Investigative), Psychiatry (Artistic), Public Health (Social), Administrative Medicine (Enterprising), and Laboratory Medicine (Conventional). The homology between medical careers and RIASEC may mean that the map can be used as the basis for understanding career choice, and for providing career counselling.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-4-18
PMCID: PMC524180  PMID: 15461786
13.  Stress, burnout and doctors' attitudes to work are determined by personality and learning style: A twelve year longitudinal study of UK medical graduates 
BMC Medicine  2004;2:29.
Background
The study investigated the extent to which approaches to work, workplace climate, stress, burnout and satisfaction with medicine as a career in doctors aged about thirty are predicted by measures of learning style and personality measured five to twelve years earlier when the doctors were applicants to medical school or were medical students.
Methods
Prospective study of a large cohort of doctors. The participants were first studied when they applied to any of five UK medical schools in 1990. Postal questionnaires were sent to all doctors with a traceable address on the current or a previous Medical Register. The current questionnaire included measures of Approaches to Work, Workplace Climate, stress (General Health Questionnaire), burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory), and satisfaction with medicine as a career and personality (Big Five). Previous questionnaires had included measures of learning style (Study Process Questionnaire) and personality.
Results
Doctors' approaches to work were predicted by study habits and learning styles, both at application to medical school and in the final year. How doctors perceive their workplace climate and workload is predicted both by approaches to work and by measures of stress, burnout and satisfaction with medicine. These characteristics are partially predicted by trait measures of personality taken five years earlier. Stress, burnout and satisfaction also correlate with trait measures of personality taken five years earlier.
Conclusions
Differences in approach to work and perceived workplace climate seem mainly to reflect stable, long-term individual differences in doctors themselves, reflected in measures of personality and learning style.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-2-29
PMCID: PMC516448  PMID: 15317650

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