A Review of Medical School Records to Investigate the Effectiveness of Enrichment Programs for "At Risk" Students. Tekian A, Hruska L.Teaching and Learning in Medicine 2004; 16(1):28-33 Reviewed by Linda Willies-Jacobo, University of California San Diego
A Review of Medical School Records to Investigate the Effectiveness of Enrichment Programs for "At Risk" Students. Tekian A, Hruska L.Teaching and Learning in Medicine 2004; 16(1):28-33Reviewed by Linda Willies-Jacobo, University of California San Diego
nrichment programs were designed to help those students with low GPAs and MCAT scores, since these measures tend to be good predictors of success in medical school. While there are numerous enrichment programs for underrepresented minority (URM) students enrolling into medical schools throughout the country, few studies have adequately addressed the effectiveness of these programs, in large part due to the low number of participants.
The authors of this paper set out to investigate the effects of participation in enrichment programs on student success during medical school using a general linear model procedure. The identified outcome measures of success for the purpose of this study were delaying events (DE), student status and the USLME-I scores. Delaying events were defined as: failure of a final course exam, failure of a course, and failure of an attempt at the USMLE-I exam. Three categories were established to describe student status: no delay (ND), delay (D), and withdrawal (W) from medical school. All URM and non-URM at-risk students (n=92) who matriculated to University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine (UIC-COM) in 1992 and 1993 had their records evaluated for undergraduate GPA, MCAT average scores, accumulated number of DE prior to the students' graduation, students' first attempt on USMLE-I scores, and participation in enrichment programs. Seven different enrichment program categories were defined (no program, serious research, other programs [summer enrichment, summer enrichment and research, motivational, post-baccalaureate, post-baccalaureate and research]).
There was a mean reduction in the number of DE among those students in research category enrichment programs, which was statistically significant (p<.01), with the serious research programs having the fewest number of delaying events. This finding was believed to occur because students in these programs tend to get more assistance with critical thinking and problem-solving skills than in other programs. The ND group was further noted to have a significantly higher USMLE-I score (p< .001), which was believed by the authors to be further evidence of success.
This was a provocative study that put forth an important question, especially in light of the high cost of enrichment programs. In all of its complexity, however, this article fails to provide us with significantly new information about the effectiveness of enrichment programs for underrepresented minority students. I agree with the authors that what may very well be needed are exit exams for better evaluation of program effectiveness. It does further lead us to wonder if we should be investing more heavily into those programs in which the emphasis is on critical thinking and problem solving.
(Should all students have required research as a means of enriching their approach to medicine? SM)