Going Bush: a chance of a lifetime: key factors ensuring the quality of 4- and 8- week rural placements for medical students

Sen Gupta, Tarun, Gupta, Shatendra Kumar, Jukka, Clare, Woolley, Torres, and Taylor, Louise (2005) Going Bush: a chance of a lifetime: key factors ensuring the quality of 4- and 8- week rural placements for medical students. Report. General Practice and Rural Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia.

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Aims: This project explored with key stakeholders the key factors that appear to determine the quality of four- and eight-week rural placements for medical students at the James Cook University School of Medicine. Recommendations are made to improve quality locally, which should be of relevance to other settings.

Methodology: The programme was evaluated using both qualitative and quantitative means. The primary methodology was qualitative, reflecting the need to evaluate the programme from the perspective of students, rural preceptors and administrative and academic staff from both the School and the rural teaching sites. Year 2 and 4 students completed 105 pre-placement questionnaires and 68 post-placement questionnaires. 26 focus groups were conducted with 105 students pre-placement and 89 students post-placement. A further 26 in-depth interviews were conducted with 18 rural preceptors and 10 programme coordinators.

Results and conclusions: The vast majority of students enjoyed their 4- and 8-week rural placements. This high level of satisfaction was due to most students achieving their clinical and social expectations for the rural placement while experiencing relatively few problems with accommodation, isolation or lack of resources.

Key factors that helped ensure the quality of rural placements for medical students included:

• Careful definition of placement aims and objectives.

• Appropriate preparation of rural preceptors and placement sites.

• Preparation of students, with particular attention to specific needs or anxieties, and provision of relevant information about the site and required learning activities.

• Support for students and preceptors at teaching sites.

• Availability of local teaching networks to provide varied learning experiences.

• A positive welcome and orientation to the community, the teaching site and the accommodation facilities.

• Provision of appropriate accommodation with study facilities and IT access.

• Availability of suitable leisure experiences for students after hours.

• A match between students’ learning expectations and clinical experiences.

• Structures to promote effective learning experiences while on rural placement.

• Optimal teaching strategies used by preceptors.

• Regular feedback process and effective communication between all key players.

The interplay between these factors and the key players - the School, the teaching site, the preceptors and the students - is summarised in Figure 1, page 2. The most important factor appeared to be student preparation. Students who had a higher quality experience and a tolerance of minor problems were likely to be those who felt well prepared, motivated and informed, and who were placed in a community that was able to meet their educational and social needs.

Item ID: 33982
Item Type: Report (Report)
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2015 00:55
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920506 Rural Health @ 100%
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