A Best Evidence Systematic Review of the impact of an Intercalated BSc on Medical Student Performance and Careers
Intercalated BScs (iBScs) are an optional part of undergraduate (UG) medicine courses in the UK, Eire, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, Hong Kong, South Africa and Canada, consisting of advanced study into a particular field of medicine, often combined with research.
Evidence to support the impact of intercalated BSc within undergraduate (UG) medical education is conflicting. We conducted a best evidence systematic review of the field, bringing together evidence from biomedical, educational and professional literature. The aim was to explore the impact of iBScs on undergraduate performance, skills, and career choice, and to explore students’ and other stakeholders’ opinions about iBScs.
We undertook a mixed-method systematic review (meta-analysis and critical interpretive synthesis) of the biomedical and educational primary studies and other sources. Standard systematic review procedures were applied for sifting abstracts, scrutinising full papers and abstracting data. Outcome measures from the 5 primary studies were analysed and a critical interpretative synthesis of 46 articles, were then combined in a narrative format.
The findings showed that Intercalated BScs may improve UG performance and increase the likelihood of such students pursuing academic careers, and are associated with a reduced likelihood of these students following a GP career. They help students to develop reflexivity and key skills, such as a better understanding of critical appraisal and research. The decision however to undertake an iBSc is contentious; students feel ill-informed about the benefits.
Melvyn Jones (lead reviewer), Senior Lecturer, Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London Medical School, Royal Free Campus, London
Patrick Hutt, Clinical Associate, Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London Medical School, Royal Free Campus, London
Sophie Eastwood, Clinical Research Fellow, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London
Surinder Singh, Senior Lecturer, Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London Medical School, Royal Free Campus, London
Online at BEME
- Published paper (2013)
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