Diverse selection policy best for medical graduates

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 20-9-2010

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



A new study by WA researchers, published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, has reported that a diverse selection policy is required to identify future doctors who perform well in both written and clinical tasks.

The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Executive Dean of Medicine and senior study author, Professor Julie Quinlivan, said 228 medical students were monitored throughout their course and evaluated to see whether selection factors impacted upon their performance.

“Performance in the science section of the GAMSAT, a postgraduate test administered by the Australian Council for Education Research, was highly predictive of performance in the written elements of assessment in the medical school,” said Professor Quinlivan.

“However, performance in clinical skills areas such as communication with patients and colleagues and in performing assessments and procedures was associated with applicants who performed well at interview and their first Bachelor degree.”

Professor Quinlivan said although results offered an insight into some areas of performance, the study failed to identify selection factors that would identify doctors more likely to work with rural and underserved communities.

“We know that a student from a rural background is more likely to end up working in rural and underserved areas,” she said.

“We had been hoping to identify other factors which could predict these graduates. Unfortunately, no other factor was identified.”

Professor Quinlivan said there was an urgent need for an outer metropolitan, rural and remote medical workforce, noting that key independents who recently helped the Australian Labor Party retain government had each placed rural workforce as a key issue in their support.

“Calls have been made for an additional rural medical school in NSW to supplement the rural workforce shortage,” she said.

“Minister Roxon advised Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand Executive Committee before the recent Federal election that the Commonwealth had no plans for further expansion of medical training places until the current medical students and graduates were integrated into the postgraduate training system.”

According to Professor Quinlivan, a second key-aspect of the recent study was the failure of the student portfolio to predict performance in either medical assessment tasks or in rural workforce outcomes.

“We need to review the information in the medical school applicants’ portfolios to ensure that we are giving weight to those factors that deliver medical graduates with a positive attitude towards working with underserved communities,” she said.

“If the current portfolio system is not achieving this, then it needs to be revised.”

Media Contact:

Andrea Barnard (+61) 8 9433 0610, Mob (+61) 0408 959 138