METHODS: Ethical and institutional approval was obtained at each study location. A questionnaire was designed and distributed to final year students. Domains assessed included demographics, career plans and reasons associated. Anonymised responses were collated and evaluated. Categorical data were compared with Fisher's exact test.
RESULTS: Responses were obtained from 342 students in four medical schools of whom 78.6% were undergraduates. Over half (53%) were Irish, with Malaysia, Canada and the USA the next most common countries of origin. Only 18% of students intended to pursue surgery, with 60% stating they did not plan to, and 22% undecided. Of those who plan not to pursue surgery, 28% were unsure about a speciality but the most common choices were medicine (39%), general practice (16%) and paediatrics (8%). Reasons for not picking a career in surgery included long hours and the unstructured career path. Suggestions to improve uptake included earlier and more practical exposure to surgery, improved teaching/training and reduction in working hours.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study 18% of final year medical students identified surgery as their chosen career pathway. Although lifestyle factors are significant in many students' decision, perceived quality and duration of surgical training were also relevant and are modifiable factors which, if improved could increase interest in surgery as a career.
Methods: We retrieved the in-course continuous assessment (ICA) and final professional examination results of 3 cohorts of medical students (n = 245) from the examination unit of the International Medical University, Seremban, Malaysia. The ICA was 3 sets of composite marks derived from course works, which includes summative theory paper with short answer questions and 1 of the best answers. The clinical examination includes end-of-posting practical examination. These examinations are conducted every 6 months in semesters 6, 7 and 8; they are graded as pass/fail for each student. The final professional examination including modified essay questions (MEQs), 1 8-question objective structured practical examination (OSPE) and a 16-station objective structured clinical examination (OSCE), were graded as pass/fail. Failure in the continuous assessment that can predict failure in each component of the final professional examination was tested using chi-square test and presented as odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI).
Results: Failure in ICA in semesters 6-8 strongly predicts failure in MEQs, OSPE and OSCE of the final professional examination with OR of 3.8-14.3 (all analyses p< 0.001) and OR of 2.4-6.9 (p<0.05). However, the correlation was stronger with MEQs and OSPE compared to OSCE.
Conclusion: ICA with theory and clinical examination had a direct relationship with students' performance in the final examination and is a useful assessment tool.