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What do students do on clinical rotations?


Assessing student clinical learning experiences. Nehyba K, Miller S, Connaughton J, Singer B. Clin Teach 2016;13:1-4.

Reviewed by Gary Beck Dallaghan

Tags: Clinical Rotations, Outpatient, Clinical Skills, Survey

What was the study question?
Can use of a student activity worksheet to record time spent on learning experiences in conjunction with a survey exploring student satisfaction and preferred learning activities help supervisors develop a clearer understanding of the effectiveness of clinical education?

How was the study done?
The authors used published research and expert opinion to develop a list of common teaching and learning activities expected of students on a physiotherapy clinical rotation.  This list was used in an activity worksheet to detail the time and range of experiences encountered each day.  Additionally, a secondary questionnaire explored students’ perception of their learning experiences, rating the activities on a 7-point scale as well as prioritizing the preferred learning activity.  Participants were asked to complete the worksheets in the middle weeks of their clinical assignments.

What were the results?
Seventy-seven participants completed the documents.  Data from the activity worksheets highlighted the variability of student experiences at clinical sites.  Data obtained from the questionnaires indicated students were most satisfied with the amount of time spent seeing patients.  From the questionnaire, students also rated learning experiences where they observed their preceptor treating patients, receiving feedback on their performance, and treating patients as most valuable. 

What are the implications?
LCME Standard 8.7 requires documentation of comparable experiences across instructional sites.  This can be a conundrum for clerkship directors using multiple community-based preceptors.  The process used in this study could easily be adapted to a pediatric clinic setting to determine comparability across sites.  An interesting finding from this study was that students valued observing their preceptor treating patients but according to the activity worksheet, it was one of the least recorded activities.  Finding such discrepancies across sites may provide opportunities to talk to preceptors to enhance student experiences.

Editor’s note:  I don’t think that any of us would be shocked by the finding that students’ experiences in clinical settings are highly variable. This article suggests a way to constructively address that variability. (RR)

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