Selection into medicine: the predictive validity of an outcome-based procedure

Sanne Schreurs*, Kitty B. Cleutjens, Arno M. M. Muijtjens, Jennifer Cleland, Mirjam G. A. Oude Egbrink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Medical schools must select students from a large pool of well-qualified applicants. A challenging issue set forward in the broader literature is that of which cognitive and (inter) personal qualities should be measured to predict diverse later performance. To address this gap, we designed a 'backward chaining' approach to selection, based on the competences of a 'good doctor'. Our aim was to examine if this outcome-based selection procedure was predictive of study success in a medical bachelor program.

Methods: We designed a multi-tool selection procedure, blueprinted to the CanMEDS competency framework. The relationship between performance at selection and later study success across a three-year bachelor program was examined in three cohorts. Study results were compared between selection-positive and selection-negative (i.e. primarily rejected) students.

Results: Selection-positive students outperformed their selection-negative counterparts throughout the entire bachelor program on assessments measuring cognitive (e.g. written exams), (inter) personal and combined outcomes (i.e. OSCEs). Of the 30 outcome variables, selection-positive students scored significantly higher in 11 cases. Fifteen other, non-significant between-group differences were also in favor of the selection-positives. An overall comparison using a sign test indicated a significant difference between both groups (p <0.001), despite equal pre-university GPAs.

Conclusions: The use of an outcome-based selection approach seems to address some of the predictive validity limitations of commonly-used selection tools. Selection-positive students significantly outperformed their selection-negative counterparts across a range of cognitive, (inter) personal, and mixed outcomes throughout the entire three-year bachelor in medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number214
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2018


  • Selection
  • Backward chaining
  • Outcome-based
  • Predictive validity
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Educational Measurement
  • Curriculum
  • School Admission Criteria
  • Schools, Medical

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