Author(s): Arulampalam W, Naylor R, Smith J
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Abstract BACKGROUND: In the context of the 1997 Report of the Medical Workforce Standing Advisory Committee, it is important that we develop an understanding of the factors influencing medical school retention rates. AIMS: To analyse the determinants of the probability that an individual medical student will drop out of medical school during their first year of study. METHOD: Binomial and multinomial logistic regression analysis of individual-level administrative data on 51 810 students in 21 medical schools in the UK for the intake cohorts of 1980-92 was performed. RESULTS: The overall average first year dropout rate over the period 1980-92 was calculated to be 3.8\%. We found that the probability that a student would drop out of medical school during their first year of study was influenced significantly by both the subjects studied at A-level and by the scores achieved. For example, achieving 1 grade higher in biology, chemistry or physics reduced the dropout probability by 0.38\% points, equivalent to a fall of 10\%. We also found that males were about 8\% more likely to drop out than females. The medical school attended also had a significant effect on the estimated dropout probability. Indicators of both the social class and the previous school background of the student were largely insignificant. CONCLUSIONS: Policies aimed at increasing the size of the medical student intake in the UK and of widening access to students from non-traditional backgrounds should be informed by evidence that student dropout probabilities are sensitive to measures of A-level attainment, such as subject studied and scores achieved. If traditional entry requirements or standards are relaxed, then this is likely to have detrimental effects on medical schools' retention rates unless accompanied by appropriate measures such as focussed student support.
This article was published in Med Educ
and referenced in Family Medicine & Medical Science Research