An analysis of students' clinical experiences in an integrated primary care clerkship.

Publication Date: 
Jul 12, 2002

PURPOSE: Combining complementary clinical content into an integrated clerkship curriculum should enhance students' abilities to develop skills relevant to multiple disciplines, but how educational opportunities in primary care ambulatory settings complement each other is unknown. The authors conducted an observational analytic study to explore where opportunities exist to apply clinical skills during a 16-week integrated primary care clerkship (eight weeks of family medicine, four weeks of ambulatory pediatrics, and four weeks of ambulatory internal medicine).

METHOD: Using handheld computers, students recorded common problems, symptoms, and diagnoses they saw. The students also recorded information about the educational process of the clerkship. Two data files were created from the database. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the students' clerkship experiences, and ANOVA was used to evaluate differences among these blocks within the clerkship.

RESULTS: Students encountered different frequencies of presenting symptoms, the majority of which occurred in pediatrics (23.2 per student per week versus 16.3 in medicine and 16.8 in family medicine; p =.01). Students provided more behavioral change counseling in family medicine (5.2 episodes per student per week versus 4.2 and 2.0 in internal medicine and pediatrics, respectively; p =.01), and they performed more clinical procedures in family medicine (1.9 per student per week versus 0.6 and 1.1 in pediatrics and internal medicine, respectively; p =.001). Students were more likely to encounter specific conditions in internal medicine (35.3 per student per week versus 30.0 and 21.4 in family medicine and pediatrics, respectively; p =.01). Elements of the teaching and learning processes also differed by clerkship.

CONCLUSIONS: Very little overlap was found in symptoms, conditions, procedures, and other educational opportunities in the ambulatory pediatrics, internal medicine, and family medicine blocks that constitute the integrated primary care clerkship. The blocks provided different and complementary learning opportunities for students. These findings will assist in clerkship planning and in guiding students to seek opportunities that will ensure educational excellence.

DOI/Link to source: 
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