Background: In Belgium, access to specialist training in general medicine is limited by a competitive examination. Students’ personal reflections on their role as physicians and on their adequacy with society’s needs are not encouraged. Being aware of its social accountability in health, our department has developed a competitive examination based not on the students’ knowledge, but rather on their motivation, capacity for reflexivity and flexibility, and awareness of general practitioners’ societal role in the future.
Objective(s): To evaluate the acceptability of the competition test created with regard to objectives of social accoutability.
Method: At the end of the examination, a questionnaire was distributed to students and examiners on a voluntary basis. The answers were analyzed using a qualitative inductive method.
Results: Overall, 637 students participated in the competition, while 215 students (34%) and 21 of 30 examiners (70%) completed the questionnaire. Both examiners and students seemed to be satisfied with the competition. However, the lack of theoretical background raised several questions concerning the quality of the competition and its credibility. The test produced a distortion revealing the student's capacity for mental flexibility. The examination thereby becomes a rite of passage, enabling a transition from student life to professional life.
Conclusion: In addition to its selection role, the general medicine examination has become a rite of passage from student life to the professional world, which is likely accompanied by future general practitioners’ awareness of their social accountability in the health landscape.