GMS Journal for Medical Education (2018-02-01)

How the Start into the Clinical Elective Year Could be Improved: Qualitative Results and Recommendations from Student Interviews

  • Beck, Samuel,
  • Schirlo, Christian,
  • Breckwoldt, Jan

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 35, no. 1
p. Doc14


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Background: Entering the Clinical Elective Year (CEY) is a challenging transition phase for undergraduate medical students. Students become members of a professional team, thereby taking over certain tasks, which are executed more or less independently. Factors which facilitate (or impede) this transition in the perception of students are not well described. We therefore wanted to explore, what students perceived to be helpful during the first phase of the CEY and possibly derive respective recommendations.Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 5th year medical students after they had completed the first two months of their CEY. Students were asked which problems they had faced and how they felt prepared for the CEY. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed by qualitative content analysis. Results: From 34 interviews, we included 28 into analysis. Overall, 24 students were satisfied or very satisfied with their start into the CEY. Satisfaction was expressed with respect to workplace experiences, learning progress, responsibilities and team integration. Especially, students appreciated if they were integrated as active members of the team, were given responsibility for certain units of work, and received well-structured formal teaching and supervision. Students had divergent opinions about the quality of teaching and supervision, about their own achievements, and the recognition they received. Students recommended improvements in respect to formal teaching and supervision by clinical supervisors, preparation of the CEY by university, and supporting structures in the hosting institution. Conclusion: Students in this study were generally satisfied with the first two months of their CEY. Facilitating factors were active and responsible involvement into routine patient care, and high quality formal teaching and supervision. Findings may inform universities, teaching hospitals, and students how to better shape the first phase of the CEY.