Investigating Canadian medical school attrition metrics to inform socially accountable admissions planning
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OBJECTIVE: Attrition from Canadian medical degree programs was never described despite differences in admissions requirements at the 17 faculties of medicine. Knowledge on attrition metrics could help the faculties evaluate new avenues for addressing the Association of Faculties of Medicine's (AFMC) Future of Medical Education in Canada (FMEC MD) recommendation to enhance admissions practices with the goal to improve social accountability and student diversity. METHOD: AFMC databases were used to track medical degree completion of all Canadian M.D. students who enrolled between 2003 and 2007. Students were followed and assigned an M.D. completion status as of by July 1, 2013. Bivariate statistics were used to evaluate if demographic, admission and degree progression variables were associated with medical school attrition. RESULTS: Of 11,454 students enrolled in Canadian M.D. programs from 2003 to 2007, only 197 (1.7%) did not complete. Québec had significantly higher attrition than other jurisdictions with age, educational attainment at time of enrolment, MCAT completion and struggling academically associated with attrition. CONCLUSION: Attrition from Canadian MD programs is rare and associated with differences in admission requirements and possibly suggests an optimum life stage for medical studies. Improved knowledge of attrition-related factors may offer an additional level of evidence for improving the alignment between admissions policies and the social accountability objectives of medical schools.
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