Comparing academic performance of medical students in distributed learning sites: the McMaster experience
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BACKGROUND: In 2004, the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, developed the McMaster Community and Rural Education program (Mac-CARE), to coordinate core rotations for undergraduate and post-graduate medical learners in communities in Southern Ontario. AIMS: The purpose of this study is to compare the academic performance of medical clerks learning at distributed sites to students who remained in Hamilton using four measures of academic performance. METHODS: Progress test, OSCE, clerkship scores, and pre-clerkship tutorial-based evaluations were collected and Mac-CARE students were compared to non-Mac-CARE students on each performance measure using ANOVA. RESULTS: Outcomes are based on the first cohort to engage in Mac-CARE rotations. There were no statistically significant differences in academic performance between the 2 groups before the intervention rotation (pre-clerkship and clerkship evaluations, progress tests, or an inaugural OSCE). Mac-CARE students, however, scored higher on their post-clerkship OSCE than did non-Mac-CARE students. CONCLUSION: This study has shown that academic performance among students was at least comparable across all learning sites. To our knowledge, this is the first such study to be published within a Canadian context.
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