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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 417-426

The Relationship between Previous Tertiary Education and Course Performance in First Year Medical Students at Newcastle University, Australia

Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, University of Newcastle, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Isobel E Rolfe
Faculty of Medicin e and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan 2308
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Aim: The purpose of this study was to identify the relationship between previous tertiary education back ground and the performance of first year medical students at Newcastle University, A ustralia. Specifically, we examined degree type ( i.e. arts, science, allied health, nursing or other professional back grounds ), level of degree completion ( fully or partially completed ), academic achievement ( grade point average ) and whether or not students had postgraduate qualifications. The relationship between age and gender was also examined. Method: A ll students admitted to the medical course from 1990 to 1998 with previous tertiary education experience who entered via the "standard'' entry pathway and sat the end of year examinations were eligible for the study (N=303 ). The outcome measures were the results of first assessment ("satisfactory'' versus "not satisfactory'' ) and final assessment of the first year ("satisfactory'' versus "not satisfactory'' ). L ogistic regression was used to examine the relationship between predictor variables and outcomes. Results: In relation to first assessment results, students with a nursing and arts back ground were significantly more likely to receive a "not satisfactory'' assessment ( RR=3.9, 95% CI: 1.6 - 7.7; RR=2.9, 95% CI: 1.2 - 6.8, respectively ), as were females ( RR=1.8, 95% CI: 1.1 - 3.5 ) and students with a grade point average of less than a distinction average ( RR=2.8, 95% CI: 1.6 - 5.2 ). A t final assessment, students with a nursing background and those with a less than distinction average were more lik ely to receive a "not satisfactory'' result ( RR=20.7, 95% CI: 3.5 - 123.9 and RR=4.0, 95% CI: 1.2 - 13.9, respectively ); consequently, they were required to repeat first year. Conclusion: Our research suggests that there are some medical student groups who encounter more academic difficulties than others in first year. Identifying these students can assist medical schools to focus academic support appropriately.

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