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Med Educ. 2004 Oct;38(10):1044-52.

The effects of deliberate practice in undergraduate medical education.

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Skillslab, Faculty of Medicine, Maastricht University, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Ericsson and colleagues introduced the term 'deliberate practice' to describe training activities that are especially designed to maximise improvement. They stressed that how much one practises is as important as how one practises. Essential aspects of deliberate practice are the presence of well defined tasks, informative feedback, repetition, self-reflection, motivation and endurance. Deliberate practice is often difficult, laborious, and even unpleasant. Previous studies in the fields of sports and music have shown a positive relation between deliberate practice and level of expertise.


The present study investigated the relationship between several aspects of deliberate practice and study achievements among undergraduate medical students.


A questionnaire was developed to measure important aspects of deliberate practice. It was filled out by 777 medical students at Maastricht University Medical School (response rate 90%). Scores on 3 regular tests were used to define student levels of expertise.


Positive correlations between aspects of deliberate practice (self-study, study resources, planning, study style and motivation) and study achievements were found. Furthermore, high achieving students showed more characteristics of deliberate practice than low achieving students.


Some important aspects of deliberate practice appear to contribute to the performance of medical students.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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