Medical Science Educator

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 199–204 | Cite as

Identifying High-Performing Students in Inpatient Clerkships: A Qualitative Study

  • Ryan KhodadadiEmail author
  • Lauren Nicholas Herrera
  • Erinn O. Schmit
  • Winter Williams
  • Carlos Estrada
  • Anne Zinski



Examine fundamental behaviors and characteristics that attending physicians in inpatient settings utilize to identify high-performing clerkship students.


We employed written comment data from a cross-sectional survey of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics attending physicians at a single academic medical center in the southern USA. Free-text responses regarding factors that faculty consider when assigning honors grades were analyzed by four trained researchers (interrater agreement 0.87) using conventional content analysis to identify themes.


Seventy-nine of 141 (56%) attending physicians who were surveyed provided 90 comments.

Four major theme areas for recognizing higher performing clerkship students were identified: Taking Ownership of Patient Care (35%), Medical Knowledge and Clinical Reasoning (20%), Team Orientation (15%), and Awareness of Opportunities for Growth and Progress (13%).


Internal Medicine and Pediatric attending physicians identified characteristics that contributed to four themes in the determination of a high-performing medical student. These findings are particularly salient, as they highlight that commitment to patients, application of clinical knowledge and skills, teamwork, and awareness of growth and progress are valued by attending physicians for identifying top performing students in inpatient settings.


Medical student assessment Performance-based assessment Clinical clerkship evaluations Clinical clerkship grading Qualitative research 



Medical Education Research Interest Group, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine. Dr. Chang Wu, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama. Drs. Khodadadi and Herrera were medical students was conducted, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine, in Birmingham, AL, USA

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviewed and approved this study involving human participants and assigned Exempt Status.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© International Association of Medical Science Educators 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  2. 2.University of Alabama at Birmingham School of MedicineBirminghamUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Pediatric Hospital Medicine, Department of PediatricsUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of MedicineBirminghamUSA
  5. 5.General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine and Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical CenterBirminghamUSA
  6. 6.Department of Medical EducationUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)BirminghamUSA

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