About Half Of MSPEs (“Dean’s Letters”) Don’t Meet Minimal Guidelines

MSPE Researchers analyzed one medical student performance evaluation (MSPE) from 117 out of the 131 accredited North American MD schools.  Current voluntary guidelines suggest that the letter include a summative keyword (e.g. “excellent”) along with distribution data for the school’s various keywords, and distribution data for the required clerkship grades.  Only 51% of the reviewed MSPEs met these fairly minimal guidelines.  This practice can hurt residency program directors who need to “quickly and acutely evaluate hundreds or thousands of applicants” and hurt high-performing students “who may not be recognized for their achievements.”  The authors hypothesize that a lack of comparative data from the MSPE may lead to greater reliance on “other objective data” such as licensing examination scores. — Laura Willett, MD

Hom J, Richman I, Hall P, Ahuja N, Harman S, Harrington R, Witteles R. The State of Medical Student Performance Evaluations: Improved Transparency or Continued Obfuscation? Acad Med. 2015

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