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author:("pudney, Ian B")
1.  Medical student selection criteria as predictors of intended rural practice following graduation 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):218.
Recruiting medical students from a rural background, together with offering them opportunities for prolonged immersion in rural clinical training environments, both lead to increased participation in the rural workforce after graduation. We have now assessed the extent to which medical students’ intentions to practice rurally may also be predicted by either medical school selection criteria and/or student socio-demographic profiles.
The study cohort included 538 secondary school-leaver entrants to The University of Western Australia Medical School from 2006 to 2011. On entry they completed a questionnaire indicating intention for either urban or rural practice following graduation. Selection factors (standardised interview score, percentile score from the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and prior academic performance (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank), together with socio-demographic factors (age, gender, decile for the Index of Relative Socioeconomic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD) and an index of rurality) were examined in relation to intended rural or urban destination of practice.
In multivariate logistic regression, students from a rural background had a nearly 8-fold increase in the odds of intention to practice rurally after graduation compared to those from urban backgrounds (OR 7.84, 95% CI 4.10, 14.99, P < 0.001). Those intending to be generalists rather than specialists had a more than 4-fold increase in the odds of intention to practice rurally (OR 4.36, 95% CI 1.69, 11.22, P < 0.001). After controlling for these 2 factors, those with rural intent had significantly lower academic entry scores (P = 0.002) and marginally lower interview scores (P = 0.045). UMAT percentile scores were no different. Those intending to work in a rural location were also more likely to be female (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.08, 3.48, P = 0.027), to come from the lower eight IRSAD deciles (OR 2.52, 95% CI 1.47, 4.32, P = 0.001) and to come from Government vs independent schools (OR 2.02, 95% CI 1.15, 3.55, P = 0.015).
Very high academic scores generally required for medical school entry may have the unintended consequence of selecting fewer graduates interested in a rural practice destination. Increased efforts to recruit students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may be beneficial in terms of an ultimate intended rural practice destination.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-218) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4287212  PMID: 25315743
2.  Relationships between academic performance of medical students and their workplace performance as junior doctors 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:157.
Little recent published evidence explores the relationship between academic performance in medical school and performance as a junior doctor. Although many forms of assessment are used to demonstrate a medical student’s knowledge or competence, these measures may not reliably predict performance in clinical practice following graduation.
This descriptive cohort study explores the relationship between academic performance of medical students and workplace performance as junior doctors, including the influence of age, gender, ethnicity, clinical attachment, assessment type and summary score measures (grade point average) on performance in the workplace as measured by the Junior Doctor Assessment Tool.
There were two hundred participants. There were significant correlations between performance as a Junior Doctor (combined overall score) and the grade point average (r = 0.229, P = 0.002), the score from the Year 6 Emergency Medicine attachment (r = 0.361, P < 0.001) and the Written Examination in Year 6 (r = 0.178, P = 0.014). There was no significant effect of any individual method of assessment in medical school, gender or ethnicity on the overall combined score of performance of the junior doctor.
Performance on integrated assessments from medical school is correlated to performance as a practicing physician as measured by the Junior Doctor Assessment Tool. These findings support the value of combining undergraduate assessment scores to assess competence and predict future performance.
PMCID: PMC4132279  PMID: 25073426
Workplace based assessment; Junior doctors; Undergraduate medicine
3.  Practice effects in medical school entrance testing with the undergraduate medicine and health sciences admission test (UMAT) 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:48.
The UMAT is widely used for selection into undergraduate medical and dental courses in Australia and New Zealand (NZ). It tests aptitudes thought to be especially relevant to medical studies and consists of 3 sections – logical reasoning and problem solving (UMAT-1), understanding people (UMAT-2) and non-verbal reasoning (UMAT-3). A substantial proportion of all candidates re-sit the UMAT. Re-sitting raises the issue as to what might be the precise magnitude and determinants of any practice effects on the UMAT and their implications for equity in subsequent selection processes.
Between 2000 and 2012, 158,909 UMAT assessments were completed. From these, 135,833 cases were identified where a candidate had sat once or more during that period with 117,505 cases (86.5%) having sat once, 14,739 having sat twice (10.9%), 2,752 thrice (2%) and 837, 4 or more times (0.6%). Subsequent analyses determined predictors of multiple re-sits as well as the magnitude and socio-demographic determinants of any practice effects.
Increased likelihood of re-sitting the UMAT twice or more was predicted by being male, of younger age, being from a non-English language speaking background and being from NZ and for Australian candidates, being urban rather than rurally based. For those who sat at least twice, the total UMAT score between a first and second attempt improved by 10.7 ± 0.2 percentiles, UMAT-1 by 8.3 ± 0.2 percentiles, UMAT-2 by 8.3 ± 0.2 percentiles and UMAT-3 by 7.7 ± 0.2 percentiles. An increase in total UMAT percentile score on re-testing was predicted by a lower initial score and being a candidate from NZ rather than from Australia while a decrease was related to increased length of time since initially sitting the test, older age and non-English language background.
Re-sitting the UMAT augments performance in each of its components together with the total UMAT percentile score. Whether this increase represents just an improvement in performance or an improvement in understanding of the variables and therefore competence needs to be further defined. If only the former, then practice effects may be introducing inequity in student selection for medical or dental schools in Australia or NZ.
PMCID: PMC4007585  PMID: 24618021
4.  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
5.  Socio-economic predictors of performance in the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:155.
Entry from secondary school to Australian and New Zealand undergraduate medical schools has since the late 1990’s increasingly relied on the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) as one of the selection factors. The UMAT consists of 3 sections – logical reasoning and problem solving (UMAT-1), understanding people (UMAT-2) and non-verbal reasoning (UMAT-3). One of the goals of using this test has been to enhance equity in the selection of students with the anticipation of an increase in the socioeconomic diversity in student cohorts. However there has been limited assessment as to whether UMAT performance itself might be influenced by socioeconomic background.
Between 2000 and 2012, 158,909 UMAT assessments were completed. From these, 118,085 cases have been identified where an Australian candidate was sitting for the first time during that period. Predictors of the total UMAT score, UMAT-1, UMAT-2 and UMAT-3 scores were entered into regression models and included gender, age, school type, language used at home, deciles for the Index of Relative Socioeconomic Advantage and Disadvantage score, the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA), self-identification as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin (ATSI) and current Australian state or territory of abode.
A lower UMAT score was predicted by living in an area of relatively higher social disadvantage and lower social advantage. Other socioeconomic indicators were consistent with this observation with lower scores in those who self-identified as being of ATSI origin and higher scores evident in those from fee-paying independent school backgrounds compared to government schools. Lower scores were seen with increasing age, female gender and speaking any language other than English at home. Divergent effects of rurality were observed, with increased scores for UMAT-1 and UMAT-2, but decreasing UMAT-3 scores with increasing ARIA score. Significant state-based differences largely reflected substantial socio-demographic differences across Australian states and territories.
Better performance by Australian candidates in the UMAT is linked to an increase in socio-economic advantage and reduced disadvantage.This observation provides a firm foundation for selection processes at medical schools in Australia that have incorporated affirmative action pathways to quarantine places for students from areas of socio-economic disadvantage.
PMCID: PMC4220554  PMID: 24286571
6.  Admission selection criteria as predictors of outcomes in an undergraduate medical course: A prospective study 
Medical Teacher  2011;33(12):997-1004.
In 1998, a new selection process which utilised an aptitude test and an interview in addition to previous academic achievement was introduced into an Australian undergraduate medical course.
To test the outcomes of the selection criteria over an 11-year period.
1174 students who entered the course from secondary school and who enrolled in the MBBS from 1999 through 2009 were studied in relation to specific course outcomes. Regression analyses using entry scores, sex and age as independent variables were tested for their relative value in predicting subsequent academic performance in the 6-year course. The main outcome measures were assessed by weighted average mark for each academic year level; together with results in specific units, defined as either ‘knowledge'-based or ‘clinically’ based.
Previous academic performance and female sex were the major independent positive predictors of performance in the course. The interview score showed positive predictive power during the latter years of the course and in a range of ‘clinically' based units. This relationship was mediated predominantly by the score for communication skills.
Results support combining prior academic achievement with the assessment of communication skills in a structured interview as selection criteria into this undergraduate medical course.
PMCID: PMC3267525  PMID: 21592024
7.  Potential influence of selection criteria on the demographic composition of students in an Australian medical school 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:97.
Prior to 1999 students entering our MBBS course were selected on academic performance alone. We have now evaluated the impact on the demographics of subsequent cohorts of our standard entry students (those entering directly from high school) of the addition to the selection process of an aptitude test (UMAT), a highly structured interview and a rural incentive program.
Students entering from 1985 to 1998, selected on academic performance alone (N = 1402), were compared to those from 1999 to 2011, selected on the basis of a combination of academic performance, interview score, and UMAT score together with the progressive introduction of a rural special entry pathway (N = 1437).
Males decreased from 57% to 45% of the cohort, students of NE or SE Asian origin decreased from 30% to 13%, students born in Oceania increased from 52% to 69%, students of rural origin from 5% to 21% and those from independent high schools from 56% to 66%. The proportion of students from high schools with relative socio-educational disadvantage remained unchanged at approximately 10%. The changes reflect in part increasing numbers of female and independent high school applicants and the increasing rural quota. However, they were also associated with higher interview scores in females vs males and lower interview scores in those of NE and SE Asian origin compared to those born in Oceania or the UK. Total UMAT scores were unrelated to gender or region of origin.
The revised selection processes had no impact on student representation from schools with relative socio-educational disadvantage. However, the introduction of special entry quotas for students of rural origin and a structured interview, but not an aptitude test, were associated with a change in gender balance and ethnicity of students in an Australian undergraduate MBBS course.
PMCID: PMC3233506  PMID: 22111521
8.  Association of clinical and aetiologic subtype of acute ischaemic stroke with inflammation, oxidative stress and vascular function: A cross-sectional observational study 
The role of inflammation, vascular dysfunction and oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of different stroke subtypes is not well understood. We aimed to determine if the clinical and aetiologic subtype of acute ischaemic stroke influences systemic markers of vascular function, inflammation and oxidative stress.
129 men and women were recruited within 10 days of acute ischaemic stroke or TIA at two tertiary hospitals in this cross-sectional observational study. Stroke severity (NIHSS score and S100B concentration); systemic markers of inflammation (high sensitivity C-reactive protein [hs-CRP] and fibrinogen), endothelial activation (E-selectin), endothelial cell damage (von Willebrand factor activity), and oxidative stress (F2-isoprostanes) were measured.
Hs-CRP concentrations were higher in total anterior (22.0±24.1 mg/L) than partial anterior circulation (15.3±32.4 mg/L) and lacunar (4.9±4.3 mg/L) syndromes (p=0.01). Hs-CRP concentrations correlated moderately with NIHSS score (r=0.45, p<0.01) and S100B (r=0.48, p<0.01). However aetiologic and clinical subtypes were not independently associated with hs-CRP when included with stroke severity in general linear models.
These data suggest that stroke aetiology and clinical syndrome may not be important independent determinants of the degree of systemic inflammation, oxidative stress or endothelial function in acute ischaemic stroke. Other factors, including stroke severity, pre-morbid inflammation and co-morbidity may explain variations among groups of participants with different subtypes of acute ischaemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3560506  PMID: 21873941
acute; stroke; inflammation; oxidative stress; endothelium
9.  Systemic markers of inflammation are independently associated with S100B concentration: results of an observational study in subjects with acute ischaemic stroke 
Vascular dysfunction and brain inflammation are thought to contribute to the pathophysiology of cerebral injury in acute stroke. However acute inflammation and vascular dysfunction may simply be markers of an acute phase response to cerebral injury, reflecting the size of the cerebral lesion. We aimed to determine if systemic markers of vascular dysfunction and inflammation are independently associated with concentrations of the astroglial protein S100B, a marker of brain injury, in participants with acute ischaemic stroke.
Fifty-seven men and women recruited within 96 hours of acute ischaemic stroke at two tertiary hospitals participated in this cross sectional observational study. Clinical, imaging (stroke lesions area measured with perfusion CT) and laboratory data were the independent variables and co-variates. The outcome variable was serum S100B concentration, analysed by multivariate regression.
High sensitivity-CRP (B = 0.41) and lesion area (B = 0.69) were independently associated with S100B concentration (R2 = 0.75, p < 0.01). Other variables with significant univariate associations with S100B concentration were not independently associated with S100B concentration in the final multivariate model.
The degree of systemic inflammation is associated with S100B concentration in acute ischaemic stroke, independent of the size of the ischaemic lesion.
PMCID: PMC2984413  PMID: 21034449
10.  Systemic vascular function, measured with forearm flow mediated dilatation, in acute and stable cerebrovascular disease: a case-control study 
Acute ischaemic stroke is associated with alteration in systemic markers of vascular function. We measured forearm vascular function (using forearm flow mediated dilatation) to clarify whether recent acute ischaemic stroke/TIA is associated with impaired systemic vascular function.
Prospective case control study enrolling 17 patients with recent acute ischaemic stroke/TIA and 17 sex matched controls with stroke more than two years previously. Forearm vascular function was measured using flow medicated dilatation (FMD).
Flow mediated dilatation was 6.0 ± 1.1% in acute stroke/TIA patients and 4.7 ± 1.0% among control subjects (p = 0.18). The mean paired difference in FMD between subjects with recent acute stroke and controls was 1.25% (95% CI -0.65, 3.14; p = 0.18). Endothelium independent dilatation was measured in six pairs of participants and was similar in acute stroke/TIA patients (22.6 ± 4.3%) and control subjects (19.1 ± 2.6%; p = 0.43).
Despite the small size of this study, these data indicate that recent acute stroke is not necessarily associated with a clinically important reduction in FMD.
PMCID: PMC2970588  PMID: 20955612

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