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Korean J Med Educ. 2012 Sep;24(3):233-40. doi: 10.3946/kjme.2012.24.3.233. Epub 2012 Sep 30.

Medical students' failure experiences and their related factors.

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Office of Education and Research, Chonnam National University Hospital, Gwangju, Korea.
Department of Medical Education, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea.
Center for Teaching and Learning, Gwangju University, Gwangju, Korea.



A considerable number of medical students drop out due to low academic achievement, and these students have a high probability of repeated failure experiences. This study investigated the personal and academic problems of these students to help develop student support systems.


First-year (n=146) and second-year (n=119) medical students were asked to complete questionnaires. The questionnaires consisted of personality traits and the students' management of/satisfaction with school life.


Students who had already dropped out accounted for 17.4% of the study subjects. The most common reason for dropping out was low academic achievement, and the most difficult part of taking a leave of absence from school was psychological anxiety. The group who dropped out had significantly lower levels of emotional stability, sociability, responsibility, dominance, masculinity, and superiority and more vulnerable mental states compared with those who did not drop out. They also expressed less motivation with regard to medical science and less satisfaction with school life than did the group that did not drop out. Those who dropped out tended not to prepare for exams, and they managed their time ineffectively. They also tried to resolve their difficulties alone and rarely sought help from teachers.


More intimate student-teacher relationships should be established, and teachers should be encouraged to meet and interact with their students on a regular basis. Additionally, personality inventories should be used to assist in efforts to understand students, especially to identify hidden social and emotional problems.


Interpersonal relations; Medical students; Personality; Student dropouts

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