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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The medical schools outcomes database project: Australian medical student characteristics

Baldeep Kaur1, Angela Carberry1*, Nathaniel Hogan1, Don Roberton12 and Justin Beilby2

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc. St James Campus (C13), University of Sydney, Level 6, 173-175 Phillip Street, 2000 Sydney, NSW, Australia

2 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:180  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-180

Published: 29 August 2014

Abstract

Background

Global medical workforce requirements highlight the need for effective workforce planning, with the overall aims being to alleviate doctor shortages and prevent maldistribution. The Medical Schools Outcomes Database and Longitudinal Tracking (MSOD) Project provides a foundation for evaluating outcomes of medical education programs against specified workforce objectives (including rural and areas of workforce needs), assisting in medical workforce planning, and provision of a national research resource. This paper describes the methodology and baseline results for the MSOD project.

Methods

The MSOD Project is a prospective longitudinal multiple-cohort study. The project invites all commencing and completing Australian medical students to complete short questionnaires. Participants are then asked to participate in four follow-up surveys at 1, 3, 5 and 8 years after graduation.

Results

Since 2005, 30,635 responses for medical students (22,126 commencing students and 8,509 completing students) in Australia have been collected. To date, overall eligible cohort response rates are 91% for commencing students, and 83% for completing students. Eighty three percent of completing medical student respondents had also completed a commencing questionnaire.

Approximately 80% of medical students at Australian medical schools are Australian citizens. Australian medical schools have only small proportions of Indigenous students. One third of medical students speak a language other than English at home.The top three vocational choices for commencing medical students were surgery, paediatrics and child health and general practice. The top three vocational choices for completing students were surgery, adult medicine/ physician, and general practice. Overall, 75.7% of medical students changed their first career preference from commencement to exit from medical school.

Most commencing and completing medical students wish to have their future medical practice in capital cities or in major urban centers. Only 8.1% of commencing students and 4.6% of completing students stated an intention to have their future medical practice in smaller towns and small communities.

Conclusions

The MSOD longitudinal project is now an established national resource that is beginning to generate significant research outputs, along with providing key information for workforce planning and policy makers. The project has now expanded to enrol New Zealand medical students.

Keywords:
Medical education; Medical workforce; Health; Medical student; Medical doctors; Longitudinal; Medicine; Methodology; Interns; Internship