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Academic Medicine:
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Relationship between quantity of undergraduate science preparation and preclinical performance in medical school

Hall, M L; Stocks, M T

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Abstract

PURPOSE. The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether a relationship existed between the quantities of undergraduate science education completed by medical students and their subsequent preclinical performances in medical school. The secondary purpose of the study was to determine the nature of any relationship present and to re-verify standard predictors of preclinical performance in medical school. METHOD. This study was undertaken at Albany Medical College in conjunction with Sage Graduate School, Albany, New York. The analysis encompassed 120 systematically and 80 randomly selected medical student academic records (200 total cases) from the entering classes of 1977 through 1992. Twelve distinct variables were collected. Data transformations were completed as required, and the data subsequently standardized. Standard descriptive statistics, correlation between variables, t-tests between systematically and randomly selected groups, and factor analysis were performed on the data collected. RESULTS. It was determined that there was no significant relationship between total hours of undergraduate science completed and average preclinical performance in medical school. In addition, correlation between subdivisions of total hours of undergraduate science (total hours of chemistry, total hours of biology, total hours of math, and total hours of physics) and subdivisions of average preclinical performance (year-one preclinical performance and year-two preclinical performance) also proved to be nonsignificant. However, significant relationships between average preclinical performance and its subdivisions and other standard predictors of preclinical performance (Medical College Admission Test score and science grade-point average) were found to be in line with values in recent literature. In addition, significant relationships were found with the National Board of Medical Examiners Part I examination. Factor analysis of all variables yielded three underlying factors: medical school preclinical performance factor, undergraduate performance factor, and quantity of non-life-sciences factor. CONCLUSION. Quantity of science-based undergraduate premedical education, either in its entirety or in subdivisions, did not materially affect the performances of the selected medical school students in their preclinical years of medical school.

(C) 1995 Association of American Medical Colleges

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