Background: Undergraduate medical education is supposed to equip medical students with basic competences to select any specialty of their choice for postgraduate training. Medical specialties are characterized by a great diversity of their daily work routines and require different sets of competence facets. This study examines the self-assessed competence profiles of final-year undergraduate medical students and their specialty choice for postgraduate training. Students' profiles, who wish to choose anaesthesiology, internal medicine, or paediatrics, are compared with the physicians' competence profiles from these three disciplines.
Methods: In this study, 148 volunteer final-year undergraduate medical students completed the modified requirement-tracking (R-Track) questionnaire for self-assessment of their competence profiles. The R-Track questionnaire contains 63 competence facets assigned to six areas of competence: "Mental abilities", "Sensory abilities", "Psychomotor & multitasking abilities", "Social interactive competences", "Motivation", and "Personality traits". The expression of the different competence facets had to be assessed on a 5-point Likert scale (1: "very low" to 5: "very high"). Additionally, socio-demographic data and the participants' first choice of a medical speciality for postgraduate education were collected. We used analysis of variance (ANOVA) for mean score comparison of subgroups and least significant difference (LSD) tests for post hoc analysis.
Results: The competence area with the highest rating was "Motivation" (3.70 ± 0.47) while "Psychomotor & multitasking abilities" received the lowest rating (3.34 ± 0.68). Individual facets of competence ranked from "In need of harmony" (4.36 ± 0.72), followed by "Tactfulness" (4.26 ± 0.64), and "Cooperation/Agreeableness" (4.24 ± 0.53) to "Risk orientation" (2.90 ± 0.92), "Mathematical reasoning" (2.87 ± 1.25), and "Sanctioning" (2.26 ± 0.93). The students' competence profiles showed 100 % congruence with physicians' competence profiles of the postgraduate specialty of their choice for internal medicine, 33.3 % for paediatrics, and 0 % for anaesthesiology.
Conclusions: Undergraduate medical students could define their competence profiles with the modified R-Track questionnaire and compare them with the profile of their desired specialty for postgraduate training to discover possible learning gaps or to detect good specialty matches. A combination of students' competence self-assessment with an external assessment of students' facets of competence could provide curricular planners with useful information how to design learning opportunities for specific facets of competence.
Keywords: Competence; Final year; Medical specialty; Postgraduate medical education; Residency; Undergraduate medical education.