Selected Skill Sets as Building Blocks for High School-to-Medical School Bridge: Longitudinal Study Among Undergraduate Medical Students
Khamis, Amar Hassan
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Background: The high school–to–medical school education transition is a significant milestone in the students’ academic journey, which is characterized by multiple stressors. Although this crucial transition has been repetitively explored, the concept of proactively intervening to support this transition is still novel. Objective: In this study, we investigated the efficacy of a web-based multidimensional resilience building intervention in developing selected soft skills that are believed to drive the learner’s success in any learning setting. The association between the students' academic performance over time and their proficiency in selected modules addressing skill sets, including Time Management, Memory and Study, Listening and Taking Notes, and College Transition, was also assessed to test the impact of the intervention on the students’ learning. Methods: A longitudinal study was conducted on 1 cohort of students of a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery program (MBBS). The medical students were offered a learning intervention around 4 skill sets during the first year of the 6-year program. Quantitative analyses were conducted using deidentified data, relating to the students' proficiency in the 4 skill sets and to the students’ academic performance: grade point average (GPA). Descriptive analyses constituted computing an overall score of skill sets’ proficiency (of all 4 selected skill sets). The mean and SD (and percentage of the mean) were also calculated for each skill set component, independently, and for the overall score of skill sets’ proficiency. Bivariate Pearson correlations were used to assess the extent to which the academic performance of the students can be explained by the corresponding students’ level of proficiency in each skill set component and by all 4 sets together. Results: Out of the 63 admitted students, 28 participated in the offered intervention. The means and SDs of the annual GPA of the students for years 1 and 2 (GPA range 1-4) were 2.83 (SD 0.74) and 2.83 (SD 0.99), respectively. The mean and SD of the cumulative GPA toward the end of year 2 was 2.92 (SD 0.70). Correlation analysis showed that the overall score of skill sets proficiency was significantly associated with the annual GPA of year 1 (r=0.44; P=.02) but was not associated with their annual GPA of year 2. The cumulative GPA (toward the end of year 2) appeared to be significantly associated with the overall score (r=0.438; P=.02). Conclusions: Developing purposefully selected skill sets among medical students holds the potential of facilitating the high school–to–medical school education transition and is likely to improve their academic performance. As the medical student progresses, the acquired skills need to be continuously reinforced and effectively built upon.