Older doctors keep early basic science learning

THE popular conception that most basic science knowledge learned by medical graduates is quickly forgotten has been challenged by new Dutch study.

Researchers at the University Medical Centre Utrecht, in the Netherlands, have tested a range of both medical graduates and experienced doctors on their retention of scientific knowledge.

The good news for practising doctors? The study found only a moderate decline in the general level of knowledge among participants.

“Even doctors who had graduated many years previously attained scores equivalent to approximately 75% of the scores of the students still in medical school,” researchers said.

The study differed from previous studies, which had reported a rapid knowledge loss in the first years, or even months, after acquisition.

Medical Education 2011; 45:422-430