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Med Teach. 2010;32(9):779-81. doi: 10.3109/01421591003692706.

Stability of values during medical school.

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  • 1Department of Community Health, Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University, Dayton, OH 45401-0927, USA.



Medical students' values represent an understudied area of research in medical education research. No known studies have investigated how medical students' values change over time from matriculation to graduation.


Values are thought to remain relatively stable over the life course. However, little research supports this claim. Therefore, we examined the extent to which values change or remain the same during medical school.


Forty-six first-year medical students completed the Physician Values in Practice Scale (PVIPS) during their first and fourth years of medical school. The PVIPS contains 38 statements of values about medical practice and comprises six scales: Prestige, Service, Autonomy, Lifestyle, Management, and Scholarly Pursuits.


Matched pair t-tests (p < 0.05) indicated significant differences between students' PVIPS scores pretest (first year of medical school) and posttest (fourth year of medical school) for 2 of the 6 values (Autonomy: t(45) = -4.12, p < 0.001 and Lifestyle: t(45) = -2.62, p = 0.012).


Medical students values appear to change slightly during their 4 years of medical education. In line with literature suggesting that the medical education process is associated with change in certain student qualities and attributes (e.g., empathy), physician values may be another variable so affected.

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