Pyschometric testing could cut student doctor drop-outs

January 8, 1999

Medical schools should consider introducing psychometric tests into selection procedures, University of Nottingham and the Oxford Consulting group researchers say.

Early findings from a seven-year study presented at the British Psychological Society's occupational psychology conference in Blackpool this week have shown that academic results alone do not say enough about a candidate's social skills.

The academic progress of a class of 176 medical students has so far been monitored for two years and will be assessed for another five until their training ends. Students are measured against personality inventories completed at an early stage of their training.

"Psychometric testing would not replace traditional methods of selection, but would give medical schools an additional piece of information," said Eamonn Ferguson, senior lecturer in psychology at Nottingham University and co-author of the report. "It may be that those who initially described themselves as extroverts may perform better in later clinical stages than those who described themselves as hard working or conscientious."

As medical training is expensive and lengthy, it is predicted that psychometric tests will identify those most capable of learning. This could lower the present course drop-out rate of 17 per cent.

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