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Original Research

Why community members want to participate in the selection of students into medical school

Submitted: 10 October 2011
Revised: 26 March 2012
Published: 20 August 2012

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Author(s) : Stagg P, Rosenthal DR.

Pamela StaggDavid Rosenthal

Citation: Stagg P, Rosenthal DR.  Why community members want to participate in the selection of students into medical school. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2012; 12: 1954. Available: (Accessed 21 October 2017)


Introduction:  Medical schools around the world have established affirmative selection policies to support applicants from the populations they serve. Increasingly they are involving community members in selecting students into medical school. At Flinders University, South Australia, community involvement in the selection of students into the medical school can be by participation in the mainstream Graduate Entry Medical Program (GEMP) selection process at the city campus in Adelaide, or through membership of the rural based Community Liaison Committee (CLC). The aim of this research was to understand what motivates community members to participate in the selection of medical students, how they feel about their participation, and their perceptions of who are the beneficiaries of their involvement.
Methods:  Eight community members were purposefully selected from the pool listed to participate in the mainstream GEMP selection process, and each of the four community members of the CLC were invited to participate in this research. Interviews with each participant were audiotaped to assist in gaining an accurate transcription. The interview consisted of seven open-ended questions. Using a qualitative methodology two rounds of coding of the data were undertaken independently by each of the authors. The first round determined descriptors of motivators and feelings held by the participants as a result of their participation in the selection process. From these descriptors a second round of coding was undertaken to draw inferences, and these inferences resulted in a thematic analysis.
Results:  Five themes described why the community members are motivated to be involved in the selection of medical students: opportunity for professional growth; for personal growth; responsibility to represent the broader community; protecting the student and public interest and self-interest in shaping the future workforce. Participating community members experienced feelings associated with energising; emotive feelings; feelings associated with self-worth, positivity and feelings of obligation. By bringing their own views and values to the selection process they believed that the students selected will meet the needs of their respective communities. They believe that the university gains both financially and politically by their involvement. Members of the rural based CLC considered this role a service to their community, to which they have a strong sense of accountability.
Conclusion:  Given the opportunity, community members are willing participants in selecting students into medicine. Community members bring different skills and perspectives to the selection process from which they can influence the future medical workforce.

Key words: community, community participation, medical school admissions, medical student.

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