Influential Experiences on the Undergraduate Premedical Track Open Access

Seale, Jenni Kathryn (2014)

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Over the years, the premedical track--requirements undergraduates must fulfill for acceptance to medical school--has received a lot of attention and criticism for its rigidity and intensity (e.g. Thomas, 1978; Alpert and Coles, 1987; McGahie, 1987; Emmanuel 2006; Dienstag, 2008; Gross et al., 2008; Hanscom, 2011). Specifically, there has been concern that the content and experience of the classes may push people away from scientific studies like medicine (Green, 1989; Drew, 2011) In 2013, a literature review of the existing studies about the premedical track called for more qualitative exploration to be done into the lived experiences of premedical students in order to understand the way the process shapes them (Lin et al.). This research study focuses on undergraduate students' premedical track experiences at a medium-sized Southern research university often known for its medical ties. In this research study, I use semi-structured interviews with analysis rooted in social cognitive career theory (SCCT) (Lent, Brown, and Hackett, 1994) to explore undergraduate students' premedical experiences. I particular, I examine participants' thoughts about experiences that have been central in determining their premedical persistence or discontinuation. This research builds on existing literature about premedical persistence and career choice from the SCCT perspective. Findings from this study indicate that direct experiences in a relevant workplace are more central for premedical persistence decisions than coursework experiences. The importance of these experiences may be influenced by contextual factors that shape the social climate of the premedical track. Suggestions for improved advising of premedical students are included at the end.

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Background Information...4

Theoretical Background...15

Empirical Background...20

Research Questions...24






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