Risk factors for a delay in medical education: Results of an online survey among four German medical schools

2017-11-09T08:32:08Z (GMT) by Jens Walldorf Martin R. Fischer
<p><b>Background:</b> Delayed study progress in medical school is a challenging issue for the tax paying community, the faculty and the medical students themselves. Reasons for a delay might be different from known risk factors for academic difficulties.</p> <p><b>Methods:</b> An online survey regarding delays in the study progress and including a personality test (BFI-10) was presented to medical students from four German medical schools after completion of their 3rd year of study.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> Of 617 students, 51.2% reported a mean delay of 2.1 ± 1.5 semesters. Frequent risk factors were secondary employment (69.5%, odds ratio (OR) 1.7, <i>p</i> = 0.004), female gender (69.8%, OR 1.6, <i>p</i> = 0.007), work or study abroad (35.9%, OR 1.5, <i>p</i> = 0.02), a late graduation (5.9%, OR 2.4, <i>p</i> = 0.02), as well as support through scholarship or mentoring (19.9%, OR 1.8, <i>p</i> = 0.004). “Working on doctoral thesis” (11.3%, OR 1.9, <i>p</i> = 0.03) and structural curricular issues (36.6%, OR 0.9, <i>p</i> = 0.7) were frequently identified as obstacles. “Support by friends/family” was considered helpful by 24.1% (OR 1.4, <i>p</i> = 0.09), as well as a high intrinsic motivation (19.1%, OR 0.5, <i>p</i> = 0.01). In the BFI-10, students with study delay were more prone to openness and agreeableness.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> Risk factors for delay are not identical to those for academic difficulties. To decrease the risk for delays, firm curricular structures should be identified and alleviated. Intrinsic motivation is a strong impetus of study progress and additionally might be strengthened by curricular changes.</p>