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Results of Student-Generated 'Unique Characteristics' on the Medical Student Performance Evaluation. WMJ 2016 Jun;115(3):129-33



Pubmed ID


Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84973441826   1 Citation


IMPORTANCE: The Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)--formerly called the dean's letter--is an important tool for residency program directors to use in assessing student qualifications for both invitation to interview and construction of their rank order list. Many institutions are now allowing students to construct their own Unique Characteristics (UC) section for the MSPE. This study addresses the results of allowing students to construct their own UC.

OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to allow students to voice their thoughts regarding their participation in the construction of the UC section of the MSPE. The survey evaluated student attitude toward, value of, and support for the UC section.

METHOD: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of all fourth-year medical students at the Medical College of Wisconsin during the 2014-2015 academic year. Responses were received from 66% of students (133 out of 199). We developed a question bank to cover the aims of the study--to assess student perceived value, experience writing, and support for the UC section.

RESULTS: There was agreement among students that their participation will positively affect their candidacy for interview selection and success in the match. Overall significance of regression model P = .001, R2. = .60. Additionally, students believed they had an advantage over applicants at other schools without the opportunity to draft their UC. Other findings included that men found the task more challenging, psychiatry applicants were least satisfied with the character count, and emergency medicine applicants voiced the lowest value for the UC section.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study supports, in general terms, the utility and value of students drafting their own UC section of the MSPE. Future investigations should focus on expanding to other schools, comparing public to private institutions, and refining the interspecialty comparisons.

Author List

Holloway R, Domack A, Treat R, Roo KD


Robert W. Treat PhD Associate Professor in the Academic Affairs department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Cross-Sectional Studies
Education, Medical, Graduate
Educational Measurement
Internship and Residency
Personnel Selection
Professional Competence
Students, Medical