Does performance on evidence-based medicine and urgent clinical scenarios assessments deteriorate during the fourth year of medical school? Findings from one institution

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Academic Medicine








Copyright © 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges Purpose The fourth year of medical school (M4) should prepare students for residency yet remains generally unstructured, with ill-defined goals. The primary aim of this study was to determine whether there were performance changes in evidence-based medicine (EBM) and urgent clinical scenarios (UCS) assessments before and after M4 year. Method University of Michigan Medical School graduates who matched into internship at Michigan Medicine completed identical assessments on EBM and UCS at the beginning of M4 year and 13 months later during postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) orientation. Individual scores on these assessments were compared using paired t test analysis. The associations of academic performance, residency specialty classification, and initial performance on knowledge changes were analyzed. Results During academic years 2014 and 2015, 76 students matched into a Michigan Medicine internship; 52 completed identical EBM stations and 53 completed UCS stations. Learners’ performance on the EBM assessment decreased from M4 to PGY1 (mean 93% [SD = 7%] vs. mean 80% [SD = 13%], P < .01), while performance on UCS remained stable (mean 80% [SD = 9%] vs. mean 82% [SD = 8%], P = .22). High M4 performers experienced a greater rate of decline in knowledge level compared with low M4 performers for EBM (−20% vs. −4%, P = .01). Residency specialty and academic performance did not affect performance. Conclusions This study demonstrated degradation of performance in EBM during the fourth year and adds to the growing literature that highlights the need for curricular reform during this year.