Introduction: While there have been studies exploring the impact of personality on medical student selection and performance there has not been an investigation of the personality of students at different schools.
Method: Demographic data and responses to the NEO measure of personality traits were collected from medical students in the first two weeks of their enrolment (2011) in seven medical schools in Australia. Personality traits were analysed by school features, gender and age using logistic regression.
Results: Differences were detected between schools in the personality traits of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. Higher Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were associated with attending an Undergraduate school (OR = 1.07 and 1.03, respectively) and a rural or community focussed school (1.06 and 1.03). Students attending a school that used interviews for selection had higher levels of Agreeableness (1.04) and lower levels of Neuroticism (0.96).
Discussion: This is the first study to demonstrate that personality traits differ between students entering different medical schools. While there seems to be logic behind some differences, others are perplexing. Further research should expand on these findings and the implications to schools in regards to attracting students through selection processes, mission statements and their broader social focus.