Drop Out of Med School

Important topic since drop out from med school is often accompanied with a direct economic loss to society. Knowledge about drop out could possibly prevent drop out from med school.
In a recent literature review 625 studies were found about the topic of drop out from med school. Only 13 were included in this analyses because they attempted to account for confounding and were better in overall quality.

The 13 studies eventually included originated from the USA (n = 5), Australia (n = 3), the UK (n = 2), the Netherlands (n = 2) and South Africa (n = 1).

The influence of gender, age, and ethnicity on drop out was either modest or non-existent. Nine out of 12 studies found poorer student entry qualifications of various sorts, to be associated with drop out. The variety of entry qualifications were diverse. Academic struggle especially in the first year was strongly associated with drop out in two studies who explored this association. Only one in two studies found curriculum type associated with drop out. Traditional curriculum was associated with higher drop out compared to problem based learning curriculum.

Overall evidence for conclusive factors for drop out of med school seem to be absent. Event the strong correlation between lower
entry qualifications generally and drop out is a difficult construct because it’s defined in a broad variety of entry qualifications. Academic struggle e.g. failing at least one basic science course, is probably the only factor worth developing educational initiatives for. These educational initiatives need further research in efficacy against drop out of med school.

Very few studies have examined the association between educational initiatives and student withdrawal. Comprehensive
causal models of dropout that include educational, organisational and institutional influences need to be tested if we are to learn more about what might be done to prevent medical student withdrawal.

O’Neill, L., Wallstedt, B., Eika, B., & Hartvigsen, J. (2011). Factors associated with dropout in medical education: a literature review Medical Education DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03898.x