Selecting medical students: a case report of the need for change

Med Educ. 1999 Jun;33(6):455-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.1999.00345.x.


Objectives: To review the selection of medical students by academic score alone.

Setting: The University of Adelaide.

Methods: Surveys of students, staff, school counsellors and review of matriculation scores and rankings in the medical course.

Results: Staff and school counsellors both rated personal qualities such as problem solving ability and communication skills as highly desirable attributes to be sought, but not rote learning ability. School counsellors reported intense pressure on students and schools to achieve the required high scores, with educationally undesirable narrowing of subject choices and reduced involvement in sport and extra-curricular activities. Matriculation scores did not predict placings in our medical course. Only 52% of students had a clear ambition to do medicine, while parental pressure and a high mark featured strongly as other reasons for entry. Only 11% of students claimed any reasonable knowledge about their chosen career before entry.

Conclusion: This case report confirmed that selecting medical students by academic score alone was no longer desirable.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Rural Population
  • School Admission Criteria*
  • Schools, Medical*
  • South Australia