The Joint Centre for Education in Medicine at the British Postgraduate Medical Federation approached us to develop a questionnaire for matching medical students to an appropriate choice of specialty.
Following the usual qualitative test construction, design, pilot and item analysis phases of psychometric test development, we incorporated the resultant questionnaire, the Specialty Choice Inventory (SCI45), into a computer programme that provided for online administration, scoring and report writing.
The SCI45 contains 130 statements about aspects of a medical career, each with 4 response categories, and on the basis of the candidates responses applies a scoring algorithm and builds a profile of the respondent that matches that profile to 45 medical specialties. This enables the user to find the best fit and offer advice on career choice or guide a selection panel to the areas of questioning when there is some disparity.
The original purpose of the SCI45 was to aid in the shortlisting of candidates for interview and guide the interview panel towards important areas of match or mismatch between the candidate’s profile and that desired. Selection panels can use the derived profiles and add particular local requirements However, it has also subsequently proved to be of considerable benefit to medical students themselves in identifying an appropriate specialty choice.
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