Background: Formal systems of peer teaching are common In many advanced-degree graduate school programs but are less prevalent in medical schools. In 1997, The Medical University of South Carolina's Center for Academic Excellence created a Supplemental Instructor (SI) program in which interested upper-level medical students are hired to teach a small group of junior peers, primarily in basic science topics. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine if participation as an SI leader resulted in measurable academic improvement for those students. This study examined if participation as a teacher in the SI program (SI leader) resulted in measurable academic improvement for those students. Methods: Admission characteristics (grade point average [GPA], Medical College Aptitude Test score, age, year of enrollment, and gender) of all SI leaders were compiled from the academic years 1996-2001. A second cohort of students, who shared the first group's admission characteristics but who chose not to teach as SIs, was identified as a comparison control group. Outcome measures included United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 and 2 scores and final medical school GPA. Paired student two-tailed t-test statistics compared group means on all outcome variables0 Results: There were 199 SI leaders with non-Si students matched controls studied. There were no significant differences upon admission between the two groups; however, the SI leader group had significantly higher USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 scores and final medical school GPA compared to the non-Si group. Conclusions: The activity of formal peer-teaching was beneficial to the SI leaders' own academic success as measured by GPA and USMLE test scores.
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