Medical students' experience of performing female pelvic examinations: Opportunities and barriers

Bhoopatkar, Harsh, Wearn, Andy, and Vnuk, Anna (2017) Medical students' experience of performing female pelvic examinations: Opportunities and barriers. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 57 (5). pp. 514-519.

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Background: Teaching and learning female pelvic examination within the undergraduate medical curriculum offers some potential challenges. One such is the extent to which students are provided practice opportunities with patients in the clinical setting.

Aims: To quantify how many pelvic examinations, on real patients, have been performed by medical students at the point of graduation, and to explore opportunities and barriers to performing these examinations.

Materials and methods: A retrospective study using a self-completed, anonymous, electronic survey was developed as part of a multi-centre study. Data were collected in the immediate period after graduation from the medical programs at the University of Auckland and Flinders University in 2013. An ordinal set of range categories was used for recording numbers of examinations.

Results: The combined response rate for the survey was 42.9% (134/312). The median range category for the number of pelvic examinations performed in patients who were not in labour was 6–9 and in labour was 2–3. Thirty-three percent of medical students had never performed a pelvic examination in labour. Male medical students performed significantly fewer pelvic examinations compared with female students. Self-reported barriers to performing the pelvic exam include: gender of the student, ‘gate-keeping’ by other health professionals, lack of confidence and patient factors.

Conclusions: The majority of medical students have performed several pelvic examinations on real patients at graduation. Male gender and access being limited by midwives were the main barriers to performing female pelvic examinations. Medical curricula need to address these issues in the learning environment.

Item ID: 75261
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1479-828X
Keywords: gynaecological exam, medical student, pelvic exam, undergraduate medical education, vaginal exam
Copyright Information: © 2017 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2022 01:09
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4299 Other health sciences > 429999 Other health sciences not elsewhere classified @ 20%
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3215 Reproductive medicine > 321502 Obstetrics and gynaecology @ 40%
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education @ 40%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2001 Clinical health > 200199 Clinical health not elsewhere classified @ 20%
16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1601 Learner and learning > 160102 Higher education @ 40%
20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200509 Women's and maternal health @ 40%
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