PURPOSE. To analyze the correlation between scores obtained on the 25 scales and vectors of the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) and academic test results obtained in various subjects by the same students in the first three years of the six-year medical curriculum at Monash University. METHOD. The study participants were 133 students who commenced their medical education in 1990 or 1991 and completed their third year in 1993. The student took the CPI in their first year. The academic test results were classified according to assessment type and content. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were then calculated between the CPI scores and the test results. RESULTS. With respect to assessment type, the results for multiple-choice question test (MCQs), practicals, calculations, and to a lesser extent, essays were negatively correlated with some CPI scores that might be notionally desirable in a caring profession. Essay and oral examination results were positively correlated with scales such as Socialization, Self-control, and Work Orientation. Results of oral examinations, unlike those of other types assessments, were positively correlated with the CPI scales of Intellectual Efficiency and Management Potential. Three of the assessment types--MCQs, practicals, and calculations--were highly significantly negatively associated with the Empathy scale. With respect to assessment content, results for cell and tissue studies were negatively correlated with several CPI scales, including Empathy. By complete contrast, the scores from clinical and communication skills assessments were positively correlated with many notionally desirable CPI scales, including Empathy, Responsibility, and Tolerance. CONCLUSION. The results indicate that students with high achievement in many components of the curriculum tend to have personality profiles that seem inappropriate to their chosen careers as physicians. Medical schools espousing humanistic qualities in their educational objectives may be offering a contradictory message to their students by rewarding those with inappropriate personal qualities.
Created Date: 07 June 1996; Completed Date: 07 June 1996; Revised Date: 18 December 2000
© 1996 Association of American Medical Colleges