Background: All medical schools must counsel poor-performing students, address their problems and assist them in developing into competent physicians. The objective of this study was to determine whether students with academic deficiencies in their M-1 year graduate more often, spend less time to complete the curriculum, and need fewer attempts at passing USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 by entering the Decompressed Program prior to failure of the M-1 year than those students who fail the M-1 year and then repeat it. Method: The authors reviewed the performance of M-1 students in the Decompressed Program and compared their outcomes to M-1 students who failed and fully repeated the M-1 year. To compare the groups upon admission, t-Tests comparing the Cognitive Index of students and MCAT scores from both groups were performed. Performance of the two groups after matriculation was also analyzed. Results: Decompressed students were 2.1 times more likely to graduate. Decompressed students were 2.5 times more likely to pass USMLE Step 1 on the first attempt than the repeat students. In addition, 46% of those in the decompressed group completed the program in five years compared to 18% of the repeat group. Conclusion: Medical students who decompress their M-1 year prior to M-1 year failure outperform those who fail their first year and then repeat it. These findings indicate the need for careful monitoring of M-1 student performance and early intervention and counseling of struggling students.
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