Introduction The medical school admission process seeks to select candidates who will succeed academically in medical school and who will exhibit other desirable traits, such as altruism or compassion. Reliable assessment of applicants' altruistic tendencies is challenging. One potential measure of compassion or altruism that is often available to admission committees is an applicant's premedical community service experiences. This study examined the relationship between applicants' premedical community service experiences with community service during medical school.
Method The authors examined admission files for 2003 graduates at the study institution using an established data collection form. Investigators assessed applicants' community service experiences, including a) types of organizations served; b) extent of community service related to the medical profession; c) leadership role in a service organization; d) duration of involvement (> two years or less); and e) “overall commitment” to community service. Subject gender, age at application, and undergraduate major were also recorded. The dependent variable was community service hours during medical school, reported by students to the college of medicine outreach program office. Students were classified into one of three medical school service groups: no service hours, fewer than the median, and more than the median. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, chi-square tests and logistic regression.
Results Complete data were available for 104 applicants/students who graduated in 2003 (81% of graduates). Twenty students (19%) participated in no community service during medical school. The 84 other students performed over 5,000 service hours (range 1-974, median 14.75, and mean of 64.5). In bivariate analyses, applicants who were women, non-science majors, had > two years service, and those serving multiple organizations were more likely to provide above the median service hours during medical school (all χ2 p < .05). In a multivariate model, female applicants, non-science undergraduate majors, and applicants with multiple organizations served provided more community service hours in medical school.
Conclusions Applicants' community service histories are related to their subsequent community service involvement in medical school. Admissions committees may wish to provide additional consideration to such applicants.
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