Interesting new paper in Human Resources for Health. 'Drop-out rate for pre-service medical students varies across countries with some countries recording higher drop-out rates, which raise significant concerns about the capacity of such countries to scale up production of human resources for health.' It's worth noting that France (which is not included in the study) has dropout rates that are much, much higher - only about 10% of French students pass their first year of preclinical studies - and yet France enjoys one of the best health services in the world.
CITATION: Pre-service medical education course completion and drop-out rates
Osahon Enabulele & Joan Emien Enabulele
Human Resources for Health volume 20, Article number: 88 (2022)
Published: 27 December 2022
Introduction: The “Global strategy on human resources for health: Workforce 2030” was adopted by the 69th World Health Assembly. Among its objectives is the strengthening of data on human resources for health, to inform evidence-based policy decisions. These data include the course completion and drop-out rates, to inform mechanisms that support recruitment and retention.
Objective: This paper sought to evaluate trends in course completion and drop-out rates of health workforce students. However, original data were only obtained for pre-service medical students, but no other health worker occupational groups.
Methods: A mixed method approach was employed to obtain data presented in this paper. A structured questionnaire was sent out to targeted medical training institutions, regulatory bodies, and National Medical Associations, supplemented by a web and literature search for existing studies or data reports. Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics version 21.0 (Chicago, IL, USA) and Microsoft Excel 2010.
Results: Eight previously published studies were identified originating from six countries, with course completion rates ranging from 84% in Pakistan to 98.6% in the United States of America, while the drop-out rates ranged from 1.4% in the United States of America to 16% in Pakistan. An analysis of pre-service medical students in Australia and New Zealand, revealed average course completion rates of 93.3% and 96.9%, respectively, and average drop-out rates of 6.7% and 3.1%, respectively. An analysis of pre-service medical students from Nigeria, revealed an average course completion rate of 88.3%, and an average drop-out rate of 11.7%. Data were not readily available for most countries targeted during the research, either because of lack of existing mechanisms for collation of required data or restrictions making such data publicly unavailable and inaccessible.
Conclusions: Drop-out rate for pre-service medical students varies across countries with some countries recording higher drop-out rates, which raise significant concerns about the capacity of such countries to scale up production of human resources for health. Data that monitor both course completion and drop-out rates, and seek to provide insight into reasons for observed numbers, can inform mechanisms to address the causes of course drop-out and support student retention.
Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator
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