Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Graduate entry medicine students’ performance matches that of students in the traditional programme despite a shorter course duration

18 August 2015
Research published by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in the journal  BMC Medical Education demonstrates that the Graduate Entry Medicine Programme (GEM), introduced in 2006, is successfully delivering on the objective of increasing the pool of suitably qualified doctors available to work in the Irish healthcare system. 

RCSI research confirms that the performance of GEM (Graduate Entry Medicine) students between 2008 and 2013 was slightly better in assessment outcomes than those undergoing the traditional Direct Entry Medicine programme (DEM, five to six year undergraduate programme).

Commenting on the research, Prof Seamus Sreenan, Director of the Graduate Entry Medicine Programme at RCSI said: “We are delighted with the findings of our research which clearly demonstrates the quality and the robustness of the training programme which we have created to ensure that graduate entrants, have all the required learning supports, to undertake such an intensive education programme.”

The research  covered a broad assessment of course outputs including; essays, case presentations, structured clinical examinations of student performance in Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, General Practice Paediatrics and Clinical Medicine/Surgery, across almost 2,000 GEM and DEM students, between 2008 and 2013. Data across all of the years examined suggests slightly better outcomes for GEM students.

The research also revealed that students participating in the Graduate Entry Medicine programme with non-science qualifications perform as well as those with a science background. Having a scientific background at time of entry to the GEM confers no significant advantage in the final clinical assessments.

“For the first time in Ireland, we now have objectively analysed the comparative performance of graduate entry and undergraduate entry medical students in the same exams and our findings demonstrate within the context of an Irish medical school that  graduate entry students perform at least as well as a corresponding undergraduate-entry group. 

“There has been a substantial increase in the number of graduate-entry medical courses in Ireland the UK and Australia over the last 10 years. At RCSI we truly believe that graduate entry creates greater diversity among students and admits students who are generally older and more mature and academically proven and we believe this in turn creates a richer mix of experience in the students graduating and ultimately working in our hospitals,” added Prof Sreenan. 

Staff from RCSI involved in the research included Dr Annette Byrne, Dr Richard Arnett, Dr Tom Farrell and Prof Seamus Sreenan.

RCSI is among the top 50 most international universities in the world (Times Higher Education University World Rankings, 2014-15). It is a not-for-profit health sciences institution focused on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide.  RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.