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Int J Med Educ. 2019 May 24;10:106-110. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5cda.79ab.

Supplemental education in early childhood may be associated with professional achievement.

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Mukainada Child Clinic, Hiroshima, Japan, and Department of Pediatrics, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.
Department of Pediatrics, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.



To investigate which extracurricular lessons medical doctors and medical students received in early childhood and to compare the results to a similarly aged representative sample.


This retrospective questionnaire-based study investigated the prevalence of supplemental early education, along with professional outcomes later in life. The study compared two samples: First, as a proxy for "professional success", medical students and residents (n = 147) were asked to recall which extracurricular lessons they had taken when pre-school aged. This was contrasted to a control sample representative of the general population in Japan. Included extracurricular lessons were: "keyboard/piano", "Japanese calligraphy", "abacus use", "swimming", and "foreign language." Frequencies were compared and tested using contingency tables and the Chi-squared test. P-values < 0.05 were considered significant.


The control sample reported a lower rate (32.7%) of extracurricular activities than medical students did (51.6%, χ2(df=1, n=147) = 13.5, p < 0.001). The proportion of medical students receiving keyboard lessons during their pre-school years was significantly higher (43.5%) than that of the general population (9.1%, χ2(df=1, n=147) = 65.2, p < 0.001). Similar, but less robust, results were observed with Japanese calligraphy (11.5% vs. 3.1%, χ2(df=1, n=147)=11.3, p=0.001), abacus use (4.1% vs. 0.4%, χ2(df=1, n=147) = 7.4, p=0.007), and swimming (33.3% vs. 22.0%, χ2(df=1, n=147) = 6.1, p = 0.013).


Our results suggest that, in Japan, early supplementary education, including keyboard lessons, is associated with professional success later in life. Future research is warranted to elucidate whether there is a causal link between early extracurricular education and professional outcomes.


education; extracurricular activities; keyboard lessons; medical doctors and students; pre-school children

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