Table 8

Factors associated with attrition from the medical programme 2001–2011 (excluding students who transferred)
Factor * Number(%) Comment
Wrong career choice 26 (37) Based on student file documentation of wrong course choice. Students aged 18/19 may lack the maturity to make informed career choices. Many students are unprepared for the volume of work or realise that they would be better suited to other careers.
Physical ill-health 10 (14) There was a wide range of documented health problems ranging from uncontrolled diabetes, trauma (road traffic accidents), anorexia nervosa, tumours and mumps. Psychological problems often co-existed with physical morbidity.
Psychiatric/Psychological Morbidity † 28 (40) One student took an overdose (recovered), one admitted to considering self-harm.
Depression 11 (16) †Incidence of all these conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and alcohol abuse may be much higher as these figures are based on documented diagnoses and do not reflect undiagnosed, unreported or undocumented cases.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 2 (3)
Psychosis 2 (3)
Eating disorders † 2 (3)
Substance abuse † 2 (3)
Homesickness 14 (20) Homesickness and ‘difficulty settling in’ also affected Irish students. In one case, ‘homesickness by proxy’ was a factor (the student left because of a spouse’s homesickness).
Social isolation 14 (20) Some students had very little contact with other students. One student rarely left his apartment. Students mentioned being shy and withdrawn, not being able to socialise, being lonely, having no friends and having no-one to talk to.
Family/personal problems 13 (18)
Financial problems 10 (14) Some students with large loans were worried that they would have to repay substantial sponsorship amounts and some even feared imprisonment when they returned home. Other students took leave of absence specifically to earn money for loan repayment.
English fluency problems 7 (10) This was based on documented file evidence and is likely to be higher. 4 of these students were from Kuwait, 2 from Malaysia and 1 from UAE.
Relationship issues 5 (7) Usually related to a student leaving to live near their partner rather than relationship break-ups.
Parental pressure to study medicine 1 File evidence of only 1 case, however, likely to be under-reported and may have been classifued as ‘personal’.
Accommodation problems 5 (7) Under-reporting likely. Problems cited related to noisy house-mates, frequent house parties, untidy apartments.

*Dropout is often multi-factorial. The incidence of all factors is likely to be under-reported.

Maher et al.

Maher et al. BMC Medical Education 2013 13:13   doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-13

Open Data