Medical students' perceptions of an emergency medicine clerkship: An analysis of self-assessment surveys

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Background: No studies have been performed that evaluate the perceptions of medical students completing an emergency medicine (EM) clerkship. Given the variability of exposure to EM in medical schools nationwide, assessment of the student rotation may inform the structure and content of new and existing clerkships, particularly in relation to student's acquisition of the core competencies. Objectives: To investigate whether undergraduate medical students rotating through an EM clerkship improved their understanding and abilities in core content areas and common procedural skills; to evaluate whether improvement was affected by rotation length. Methods: All students participating in an EM clerkship over a 12-month period were asked to complete an anonymous voluntary pre- and post-rotation survey. Confidence with patient assessment, diagnosis, and management plans; trauma and medical resuscitations; formal and informal presentations; basic procedure skills and understanding of the modern practice of EM were self assessed using a Likert scale. Group mean scores on each question on the pre- and post-clerkship surveys were calculated and compared. The mean scores on each survey item, both pre- and post-clerkship, were compared between 2- and 4-week clerkship rotation groups. Results: Two hundred thirty-nine students participated in the rotation during the 12 months of the study. One hundred sixty-one (161), or 67.4%, completed the pre-rotation survey, and 96 (40.2%) completed the post-rotation survey. Overall, students showed significant mean gains in confidence with initial patient assessment, diagnosis, and management plans (p < 0.01, 0.02, <0.01) and with basic procedure skills (p < 0.01 for all). Students completing a 2-week rotation did not differ significantly from f4week rotators in confidence levels, except in the area of formal presentation skills (p = 0.01), where the 4-week students demonstrated a statistically significant advantage. The 2-week clerkship participants were significantly less confident in all procedures except EKG interpretation, splinting, and venipuncture (p = 0.28, 0.22, 0.05). Regardless of rotation length, students generally felt they had sufficient exposure to patients and opportunities for hands-on learning and practice, and overwhelmingly would recommend the EM clerkship to a fellow student, regardless of their chosen specialty. Conclusions: Medical students show significant gains in confidence with acute care knowledge, disease management, and procedure skills after completion of an EM clerkship. Although a 4-week clerkship may be preferable to expose students to the widest variety of patients and procedures, all students can benefit and improve in core competencies after an EM undergraduate experience. © Avegno et al.; licensee Springer.




Avegno, J. L., Murphy-Lavoie, H., Lofaso, D. P., & Moreno-Walton, L. (2012). Medical students’ perceptions of an emergency medicine clerkship: An analysis of self-assessment surveys. International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 5(1).

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