Emotions matter in selection for medical school: Let’s value more than students' IQ

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


In Australia, entry to a medical program is highly competitive. Presently, there is no gold standard for selecting medical students and the task of selecting candidates that will be ‘successful doctors’ is complex and multifaceted. Most medical schools use a combination of tools and scores to select applicants. Exceptionally high academic thresholds are, however, a prominent feature in most selection criteria and frequently applied before further assessment occurs. Predictive links between previous academic achievement and academic progression in medical school have been established. However, data from systematic reviews has revealed that while academic performance accounts for 23% of the variance in progress measures at medical school, it only accounts for 6% of the variance in progress beyond medical school. Furthermore, recent findings revealed that non-academic/non-cognitive qualities appear to be better at predicting students’ performance later in their medical studies. Scholars are increasingly claiming that medicine overemphasises general intelligence and underemphasises emotional intelligence (EI). In addition to being related to clinical performance and academic achievement in medical education, EI has been associated with improved empathy in medical consultations, enhanced doctor-patient relationships, and greater patient satisfaction. To date, consideration of EI when selecting medical students has been largely absent from admission criteria. In response, Bond University made the decision to include explicit measures of non-cognitive abilities, namely emotional intelligence as a standalone step of the selection process for the 2018 cohort. Anecdotally, feedback from our stakeholders has been mixed. Some have expressed disagreement and scepticism with the decision to value a “different” intelligence, possibly highlighting stereotypes and prejudicial beliefs about EI. Other stakeholders have embraced and supported the decision. For example, a student from our 2018 cohort stated: “It’s refreshing to know the university not only values our high grades but our ability to connect with people too.” Our concern is that often selection does not reflect the values of an institution, and that students feel they are only valued for their IQ and not their EI. We would like to widen the discussion and talk about something other than cognitive testing for selection - something that is consistent with program values.

Additional information

Period24 Aug 2019
Held atAssociation for Medical Education in Europe , United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational