Selection of medical students

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7347.1170 (Published 18 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1170

Affirmative action goes beyond the selection process

  1. Peter Tutton (peter.tutton@med.monash.edu.au), reader in anatomy and co-chair of admissions committee,
  2. Max Price, dean
  1. Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia
  2. Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa

    In many aspects of human endeavour great achievers enter their chosen field with an innate ability that enables them to outperform their peers who have a similar education or training. Medical educators, perhaps vainly, pay a lot of attention to the design of the curriculum and little to the selection of students. Hughes has posed the question, “Can we select better medical students?”1 Surely we can, and we should then apply the aphorism “first do no harm” to our medical education programmes.

    In an overview of selection processes for medical students, two interacting issues emerge. The first is assessment of the merit of individual applicants. The second is the special admissions schemes that aim to alter the demographic composition of the medical profession by promoting the selection of students from some particular socioeconomic, ethnic, or geographical faction. The first issue may include measures of scholastic achievement, aptitude tests, and selection interviews. The second involves affirmative action programmes designed to redress inequities from the past or to produce a professional group whose composition more closely reflects the social group for which they are …

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