Achievement of non-cognitive goals of undergraduate medical education: perceptions of medical students, residents, faculty and other health professionals


Karen V Mann PhD, Division of Medical Education, Dalhousie University, 5849 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H7, Canada. Tel: 00 1 902 494 1884; Fax: 00 1 902 494 2278; E-mail:


Background  Professionalism is increasingly emphasised in medical education. Non-cognitive goals, including values, attitudes and skills, remain challenging to define and measure. The purpose of this study was to better understand these goals and their achievement in the MD programme.

Methods  Graduating medical students, faculty preceptors, residents and other health professionals (OHPs) completed a systematically developed mailed survey, rating achievement of 25 attribute statements. Following analyses of means and standard deviations, factor analysis of responses was conducted. Responses were compared across respondent groups.

Results  The overall response rate was 50.1% (191/396), comprising 57.5% of the students, 54.1% of the faculty members, 30.9% of the residents and 50% of the OHPs. Five items received mean ratings over 4/5; none were below 3/5. Five factors explained 65% of variance. They were: ‘Teamwork and interprofessional skills’; ‘Duty and responsibility’; ‘Communication and interpersonal skills’; ‘Professionalism and values’, and ‘Trustworthiness and ethical behaviour’. The groups differed significantly on 2 factors: Teamwork and interprofessional skills (P ≤ 0.0001) and Communication and interpersonal skills (P ≤ 0.001).

Conclusions  Important curriculum goals received high mean ratings. Ratings differed significantly across groups, suggesting differing perceptions of the extent to which goals were met. More study is needed to understand the basis of these perceptions.