Criteria for selection of future physicians.


Academic achievement correlates poorly with clinical performance of physicians, so it is probably more important to select college students for medical school admission who will be superior physicians than to select those who will be excellent medical students. Before such selection criteria can be developed, a valid description of a superior physician must be determined. The relative importance of 87 characteristics of a superior physician, based on a previously published list, was determined by asking medical school faculty members to rate them. The resulting description of a superior physician is valid, because it correlated very highly (r = 0.87, p less than 0.001) with the published ratings of the same characteristics from decades earlier in another part of the country, and because it was constant across many subgroups. The faculty was also asked to rate how easily each characteristic could be taught, and those ratings were validated by high correlations across several subgroups. The importance and the teachability ratings were combined into a nonteachable-important index (NTII) that provides a rank order of traits that are important but cannot be taught easily. These are the characteristics that should be used in selecting future physicians.

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