The Four-Tier Continuum of Academic and Behavioral Support (4T-CABS) Model: An Integrated Model for Medical Student Success

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Abstract

Not all students cope successfully with the demands of medical school, and students’ struggles may result in study delay or dropout. To prevent these outcomes, medical schools need to identify students who are experiencing academic difficul ties and provide them with timely interventions through access to support programs. Although the importance of early identification and intervention is well recognized, less is known about successful strategies for identifying and supporting struggling students.

Building on the literature and their own empirical findings, the authors propose an integrated, school-wide model for medical student success comprising a continuum of academic and behavioral support. This Four-Tier Continuum of Academic and Behavioral Support (4T-CABS) model focuses on improving both academic and behavioral outcomes by offering support for students at four levels, which range from adequate instruction for all, to targeted small-group interventions, to individualized support, and also include exit support for students who might be better off in another degree program. Additionally, medical schools should provide both academic and behavioral support; set high, yet realistic expectations and clearly communicate these to students; and intervene early, which requires timely identification of at-risk students who would benefit from the different types and tiers of support. Finally, interventions should be evidence based and fit the needs of the identified groups of students. The authors argue that adopting the core principles of the 4T-CABS model will enable medical schools to maximize academic engagement and performance for all students.

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