How Important is Personality in the Selection of Medical School Students?
Personality and Individual Differences
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Admittance to medical school has traditionally been determined on the basis of students' performance on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and grade point average (GPA), which assess cognitive abilities. To supplement these predictors, medical schools also consider a semi-structured interview, which assesses non-cognitive attributes. Successful performance as a medical student is determined by performance in courses and clinical rotations. The traditional cognitive predictors generally contribute to the prediction of course requirements. However, these traditional predictors often demonstrate weak relations with clinical performance, suggesting that other predictors are necessary. Using approximately 300 medical students, the current study investigated a) the ability of the traditional admission tools to predict course and clinical performance, and b) the incremental validity of personality predictors, which were chosen on the basis of a personality-oriented job analysis. The traditional predictors accounted for a significant proportion of variance in course performance, with personality accounting for incremental variance. Clinical performance was only predicted by personality and the traditional predictors did not demonstrate predictive validity.