Perceptions of education quality and influence of language barrier: graduation survey of international medical students at four universities in China

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Background: As the number of Asian and African students studying medicine in China increases, it is imperative to evaluate the educational experiences of these international medical students (IMSs). This study was intended to investigate opinions of China-educated IMSs towards the medical curriculum and the impact of Chinese language capability on their clinical studies. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was circulated to the final-year IMSs during the graduation time from May 2019 to July 2019 in 4 universities in China. The questionnaire asked IMSs to assess the quality of medical education and provide a self-evaluation of their Chinese language capability. One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to determine whether IMSs’ Chinese language capability was associated with their clinical experiences and clinical competence. Results: Overall, we received 209 valid responses, of which 76.1% were satisfied with the quality of medical education. Genetics, physics, and mathematics were perceived as the least relevant basic courses for medical practice, and 21.5% of student reported that community-oriented medicine was a neglected subject. Notably, 58.9% of students had positive views about discussions on ethical topics during their clerkships, and 71.3% believed they had acquired sufficient clinical skills to begin a residency program. Chinese speaking skills and communication initiatives were found to be critical factors in influencing students’ clinical experiences and competence. Conclusion: This study presents the perceptions of China-educated IMSs towards medical curriculum from various aspects. Results show that language influences the education experiences of IMSs. Collectively, these results indicate that the curriculum for IMSs in China should be more problem-based and community-engaged to improve IMSs’ learning experiences and preparation for community deployment. Furthermore, training curriculum for the oral Chinese should be improved to equip IMSs with sufficient language competence to enable them to efficiently carry out clinical clerkship and rotations. Our findings provide evidence for benchmarking medical curricular codifications tailored for Asian and African students.




Li, W., Liu, C., Liu, S., Zhang, X., Shi, R. gen, Jiang, H., … Sun, H. (2020). Perceptions of education quality and influence of language barrier: graduation survey of international medical students at four universities in China. BMC Medical Education, 20(1).

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