Temperament and character: A new approach to selecting medical students and increasing the rural workforce

Eley, Diann and Young, Janet L. (2008). Temperament and character: A new approach to selecting medical students and increasing the rural workforce. In: 31st 2008 NRHA Annual Conference. 31st 2008 National Rural Health Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, U.S.A., (12-12). 7-10 May, 2008.

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Author Eley, Diann
Young, Janet L.
Title of paper Temperament and character: A new approach to selecting medical students and increasing the rural workforce
Conference name 31st 2008 National Rural Health Association Annual Conference
Conference location New Orleans, LA, U.S.A.
Conference dates 7-10 May, 2008
Proceedings title 31st 2008 NRHA Annual Conference
Place of Publication USA
Publisher NRHA
Publication Year 2008
Sub-type Fully published paper
Start page 12
End page 12
Total pages 1
Collection year 2009
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Medical student selection has been a matter of concern and debate for decades and the selection process of students into medical school is currently being challenged. The customary combination of academic results, tests and interviews are conducted by most medical schools worldwide. However, there is growing opinion that admission procedures are inadequate and do not reliably or comprehensively select for all the desirable and predictive traits of a student best suited to practise medicine. If we add to this dilemma the issues surrounding the workforce shortages in rural and remote areas and the pressures on medical schools to produce not only more doctors but supply them in areas of need, the call for better selection procedures becomes paramount. In view of the contrasting evidence for traditional selection procedures, it may be timely to investigate the value of a standardised assessment that informs about personality traits, in particular temperament and character, to help select medical students best suited to particular disciplines and workplace contexts. Temperament is defined as those components of personality that are heritable, developmentally stable and not influenced by socio-cultural learning. Character traits are a reflection of personal goals and values and are therefore specified in terms of ‘subject-object’ relations. They are influenced by socio-cultural learning and mature in progressive steps throughout life. The importance of personality traits has much support through studies that identify characteristics associated with medical students’ specialty choices and doctors in all specialities. Our research question asked; do students who have high intent/interest in rural medicine as a chosen speciality possess a unique profile of temperament and character traits compared with students of low intent/interest? A demographic survey and the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI–R 140) were completed by 272 medical students across all four years of a graduate entry medical program. Differences between students with regard to their TCI levels based on gender, level of interest in rural medicine and rural background were explored using T-tests, ANOVA and multiple regression analysis. Analysis confirmed significant differences in one temperament trait of Harm Avoidance (HA) and all three character traits of Self Directedness (SD), Cooperativeness (CO) and Self Transcendence (ST) between students with a high or low interest in rural medicine. Female medical students were significantly different from males in levels of Reward Dependence (RD), CO and HA. Our preliminary findings identified a different profile of temperament and character traits in students with a high or low interest in rural medicine. Distinguishing heritable temperament traits that may be conducive to coping in rural medicine plus character traits that can be influenced and nurtured through education, could provide medical schools with an approach to; 1) modify and ultimately improve their selection process, 2) tailor training policies for rural experiences to produce cohorts of students better equipped to cope with and be retained in a rural environment, and 3) provide well informed counselling to students with an interest in a rural career. Further work has described the temperament and character profiles of rural and urban based doctors.
Subjects 920506 Rural Health
939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified
119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Medicine Publications
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Created: Tue, 15 Jul 2008, 13:47:57 EST by Erin Bowly on behalf of Rural Clinical School - South West Qld Region