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Things to Consider in Medical School Performance Evaluation

Purpose of the Medical School Performance Evaluation

The Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) is the formal medical school performance evaluation for students that is submitted as part of the residency application package. Its purpose is to provide an objective evaluation of your academic performance and professional attributes during your time in medical school. Residency programs use the MSPE as one of the criteria for selecting which applicants will be interviewed for possible acceptance into their program. As it is an objective evaluation, the MSPE medical school faculty write may contain negative information about your performance as well as positive information.

medical school performance evaluation

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However, ultimately it is you who has control over much of what goes into your medical school performance evaluation, and not the faculty member who wrote it. They are required to write the facts of your medical school performance history.

Improve Your Medical School Performance Evaluation

From the first day of medical school, you should already be thinking about the MSPE. There are six sections that make up the Medical Student Performance Evaluation. One of the sections, the Unique Characteristics section, is a summary of awards and achievements you have received, leadership positions you have held, research you have done, community service you have performed and other similar type activities you have been involved with during your time in medical school. The Unique Characteristics statement is similar to a residency personal statement or letter of recommendation, and highlights accomplishments and activities during your time in medical school only and not before. If you have achieved a great deal while in medical school and been involved in many different activities, then the Unique Characteristic statement will make you stand out when residency programs are reviewing applications. A great Unique Characteristics statement can offset aspects of your MSPE that may be a little lower than you would want. To help boost your MSPES consider:

  • Getting involved in things like volunteer work, that contribute in a positive way to the community
  • Become a tutor or teachers assistant
  • Invite a guest speaker to talk to students about selected medical topics
  • Get involved in research if possible or write a paper

These are activities that you need to get involved with from the first year of medical school for them to have a positive influence on your medical school performance evaluation. If you wait until the third year, then you have waited too long.

Other MSPE Considerations

Having plenty of achievements and activities to include in your Unique Characteristic statement is probably the best way to improve your MSPE. Most medical schools allow students to review their MSPE before they submit it. When presented with this opportunity to review your medical school performance evaluation grab it and look for the following:

  • Look for errors and mistakes in the facts presented
  • Ensure that all good evaluations, special honors, awards, and activities have been mentioned and that nothing that benefits your image has been omitted
  • Bring any problems or discrepancies in the letter to the Dean’s (or other appropriate faculty member) attention as soon as possible so that corrections can be made.
  • Stay aware of when the MSPE is supposed to be sent to ERAS. Makes sure that the MSPE is submitted in plenty of time.

The performance review wording used in the MSPE is something that you should also pay close attention to. For several years there has been an ongoing effort to make the MSPE more standardized across different schools. This is due to the way many schools word their evaluations, and the way they define some words. Examples of words to watch out for include:

  • Good: Having the word “good” used in your evaluation is definitely not good. The lowest evaluation that many schools give is that of good. If your performance is rated good, this means that you have a below average performance
  • Excellent: Depending on the school, an evaluation of excellent can still place you in the bottom half of your class
  • Organized: Saying somebody is organized in their MSPE can be taken to mean that they are obsessive compulsive

MSPE wording such as that mentioned is a result of schools wanting to put their student’s evaluation in the best terms possible. However, residency programs are well aware of this and interpret wording based on past experiences. If you have questions regarding the performance review wording in your MSPE make sure to discuss it with the appropriate faculty member if you feel it is inaccurate.

If you are still struck with the proper performance review wording, perhaps our team might help you!

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