Original Article

What Defines an Honors Student? Survey of Pediatric and Internal Medicine Faculty Perspectives

Authors: Erinn O. Schmit, MD, Chang L. Wu, MD, Ryan B. Khodadadi, MD, L. Nicholas Herrera, MD, Winter L. Williams, MD, Carlos A. Estrada, MD, MS


Objective: Although considerable emphasis is placed on the attainment of honors in core medical school clerkships, little is known about what student characteristics are used by attending physicians to earn this designation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate what values and characteristics that attending physicians consider important in the evaluation of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine clerkship students for clinical honors designation.

Methods: This cross-sectional survey study was framed around Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) competencies. It was administered at three tertiary care hospitals associated with one large medical school in an urban setting. Teaching ward attendings in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine who evaluated third-year medical students between 2013 and 2016 were surveyed.

Results: Overall, Pediatric and Internal Medicine faculty demonstrated close agreement in which competencies were most important in designating clinical honors. Both groups believed that professionalism was the most important factor and that systems-based practice and patient care were among the least important factors. The only competency with a significant difference between the two groups was systems-based practice, with Internal Medicine placing more emphasis on the coordination of patient care and understanding social determinants of health.

Conclusions: Professionalism, communication skills, and medical knowledge are the most important characteristics when determining clinical honors on Pediatrics and Internal Medicine clerkships.

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