Requirements for admission to medical school: how many years of university study are necessary?CMAJ. 1995 Dec 01; 153(11):1595-600.CMAJ
To assess whether students admitted to medical school after completing 2 years of undergraduate study performed as well as those admitted after longer periods of undergraduate study in terms of broad patient-care skills measured at the time of graduation.
University of Alberta, Edmonton.
Graduates of the classes of 1990 and 1991, of the 226 graduates 133 had entered medical school after 2 years of undergraduate training, 39 after 3 years and 54 after 4 or more years. Eight students had been excluded because they were either transfer students or international students.
Objective and subjective assessments of the main clinical rotations (internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiology and surgery), results of the faculty's final comprehensive examination and of the Medical Council of Canada's Qualifying Examination.
The students who had completed 2 years of undergraduate study before medical school were significantly younger than those who had completed 3 years and those who had completed 4 or more years (mean age [and standard deviation (SD)] 20.5 [2.1], 21.5 [2.4] and 25.1 [4.4] years respectively, p < 0.001). They also had a significantly higher mean grade point average (GPA) for the prerequisite courses for admission to medical school than those with 3 years and those with 4 or more years of undergraduate study (8.26 [SD 0.3], 7.95 [SD 0.3] and 7.80 [SD 0.5] respectively, p < 0.001). The overall mean GPA for the best 2 years of undergraduate study did not differ significantly between the three groups. The students with 2 years of undergraduate study had a significantly lower mean score for the pre-entry interview than those who had 4 or more years of undergraduate study (32.1 [SD 7.6] v. 38.3 [SD 8.5], p < 0.001). There were no significant differences between the three groups in the results of any of the subjective or objective outcome measures.
Students who completed 2 years of undergraduate study before admission to medical school were able to achieve a satisfactory level of competency and maturity by the end of medical school. The 2-year option for entrance into medical school should be reconsidered.