Medical schools aim to contribute to a pool of doctors who are ready for a future practice that will be ever-changing requiring collaboration skills and lifelong learning. They adapt their curricula and selection procedures to fulfil this responsibility. This study aims to determine whether two different selection procedures in one medical school, both matching the key characteristics of the subsequent curricula (one traditional, knowledge-based, and one recently designed for self directed learning and focusing on practice), select students with different personality traits as a side-effect. This perspective was chosen as personality has been related to the CanMeds competencies, innovation capacities, medical school performance and medical professional success.
A total of 621 students admitted through the new or the traditional selection procedure were invited to complete a Big Five Inventory questionnaire at the start of their Bachelor's programme. Using ANCOVA, we compared Big Five traits of students admitted through the new selection procedure (n = 196) and the traditional selection procedure (n = 425).
The group of students admitted through the procedure matching the newly designed curriculum had a lower mean score on neuroticism (p <.01) and higher mean scores on conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and openness (p <.001) than the other group.
The findings of the current study indicate that the medical school population is influenced in terms of personality traits as a side-effect of a changing selection procedure. We recommend studying this mechanism and its implications further and using it more consciously in selection procedure design.