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South African Medical Journal

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How many years do students study before graduating in medicine?

M Price, B Smuts

Abstract


Objectives. The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand is considering  changing from a 6-year medical degree to a mainly graduate-entry 4-year degree. The objective of this study was to determine how long students currently take to qualify and how many years are spent studying for each medical graduate produced.
Design. A retrospective study of 691 students registered in medicine at the University of the  Witwatersrand in 1988, 1989 and 1990 was conducted by examining student progress records.
Results. The study found that an average of 7.89 years was spent studying for each graduate produced,  including tertiary studies before medicine, repeated years and intercalated science degrees. Five hundred and eighty-nine students (85%) graduated and 102 (15%) did not. Fortyeight per cent studied for 7 or more years before graduating, 21% completed degrees before or during their medical studies, and 21% of students repeated years.
Conclusion. The costs to the individual and society of the new 3 + 4-year degree structure would not be very  different from those of the current 6-year structure.



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