Selection of Medical Students


    IN an earlier issue (Nature, 154, 315, Sept. 9, 1944) the possibility that intelligence tests might be used as aids in the selection of candidates who wish to undergo a medical training was discussed in relation to the proposals of the Goodenough Committee on Medical Schools and the Planning Committee of the Royal College of Physicians for the selection of medical students by personal interview rather than by examinations alone. Drs. O. G. Edholm and Q. H. Gibson (The Lancet, 294, Aug. 26, 1944) have now published the results of their work on examination results as intelligence tests. This work was done at Queen's University, Belfast, where second-year medical students have, for the past three years, carried out "an intelligence test, using Raven's Progressive Matrices"(J. C. Raven, Progressive Matrices, London, 1938). The scores obtained were compared with examination results. The students included 20 per cent women, and the average age of both men and women students was 191 years. These authors conclude that "one of the most striking and important points which emerges from these results is the high mental ability of the average medical student, as measured by the matrix test". They quote the report of the Planning Committee of the Royal College of Physicians as saying that the average medical student of to-day is lacking in initiative and curiosity, with poor ability to arrange and interpret facts and little precision in the use of words. "If we accept this statement, "these authors comment, "either unusually great ability is necessary to avoid these faults, or they are not primarily due to any lack of intelligence. "Other critics of the mental ability of the average medical student might take this statement to heart.

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