Introduction: Academic difficulty can often be a significant problem for students in health professional programmes. Students in difficulty are often identified late in their training and run the risk of dismissal if remediation is not successful. Since the inception of the Medical Radiation Sciences Program (MRSP) at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, and the Michener Institute (MI) in 1999, a number of students have required remediation due to problems in the didactic or clinical component of their training. Not all remediation was successful, and a number of students have been dismissed. There is relatively sparse evidence in the educational literature regarding the nature of academic difficulties that health professional students encounter, and what constitutes appropriate remedial education. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the incidence and prevalence of remediation in the MRSP and the nature of the academic problems. In addition, this study looked at the type of remedial instruction that the Radiation Sciences Board of Examiners (BOE) recommended for these students as well as the effectiveness of these recommendations.
Materials and methods: This study consisted of a review of the academic records of students who failed one or more courses and underwent pre-clinical or clinical remediation, and who were presented at the Medical Radiation Sciences Board of Examiners at the University of Toronto between September 1999 and December 2004. Data extraction forms were developed to obtain demographic information, the nature of the academic problems, the remedial recommendation, and their outcomes.
Results: This study identified 69 students who were presented to the BOE 95 times. Forty-four students (44/69, 64%) were from the Radiation Therapy stream, 16 students (16/69, 23%) were from the Nuclear Medicine stream and 9 students (9/69, 13%) were from the Radiographic Technology stream. Most of the remediation occurred due to pre-clinical 50 (50/69, 72%), clinical 15 (15/69, 22%) and both preclinical and clinical problems 4 students (4/69, 6%). Out of 54 students who required pre-clinical remediation, 40 (74%) were promoted. Out of 19 students who required clinical remediation, 10 (10/19, 53%) passed their remediation. Six students (6/69, 9%) were dismissed from the programme due to unsuccessful remediation; 2 due to pre-clinical and 4 due to clinical problems. Based on these results, the remediation process at the MRSP was successful; however, 6 students (6/69, 9%) were dismissed from the programme during the last 4 years despite lengthy unsuccessful remediation.
Conclusion: Our study provided an important perspective about the remediation process at the MRSP at the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences. Despite its retrospective methodology, it attempted to identify the magnitude of learning problems that lead to remediation, and identified the efficacy of the remedial programmes.