Medical students ranked on conscientiousness

A Conscientiousness Index ranking medical students on categories including attendance and email response could make better doctors, according to Durham University researchers.

Photograph: istock
Photograph: istock

The index, which awarded points for submitting compulsory Criminal Records Bureau information and deducted them for failing to attend teaching without excuse, could detect behaviours which may need investigation at an early stage, allowing targeted support.

The research, published in Academic Medicine, found that conscientious students were also described as professional by staff. Those scoring low received mixed responses.

Evidence from US studies has shown that negative behaviour by medical students is linked to the likelihood of subsequent negative behaviour in later careers.

Lead author Professor John McLachlan, from Durham University’s school of medicine and health, said: ‘Measuring professionalism is problematic because it is difficult to define and often relies on qualitative judgements.

‘Using the index, we found that the vast majority of students are highly conscientious making a very small percentage stand out when they lapse. This makes it easier for staff to identify those students and take early steps to help them.’

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