Understanding medical students' transformative experiences of early pre-clinical international rural placement over a 20-year period

Malau-Aduli, Bunmi S., Jones, Karina, Smith, Amy M., Sen Gupta, Tarun, and Hays, Richard B. (2022) Understanding medical students' transformative experiences of early pre-clinical international rural placement over a 20-year period. BMC Medical Education, 22. 652.

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Introduction Rural placements are an important component of rural medical education programs seeking to develop rural practice pathways for medical students. These placements are usually domestic, but James Cook University in Australia developed an international rural placement program in the first half of the medical course that was funded through bursaries. This study explores how the international rural placement helped to shape the lives (personal development and learning) of the participants, using Transformational Learning Theory as a framework for identifying and describing the transformational elements, process and impact of the program.

Methods Sixty-five students received a bursary for an international rural placement between 2001–2019. All were contacted by email and invited to participate in a short survey and a follow-up interview. Fifteen participants agreed and twelve were able to participate in individual semi-structured interviews which were recorded, transcribed and analysed using inductive thematic analysis.

Results Participants reported that the bursary provided a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to “experience eye-opening and culturally rich difference”. Nonetheless, some elements of the placement experience presented disorientating dilemmas that triggered deep reflections and shifts in perceptions. The bursary recipients realised that “being open-minded” allowed them “enjoy good company”. They were also able to assume “outsider view which allowed reassessment of their own country” and the “isolation experiences gingered desire to right health wrongs”. The triggers and mental shifts had significant impact on the bursary recipients and fostered the development of “inspirational new horizons” based on an appreciation of the “value of rural practice” and “role-modelling for life-long learning.” These findings are consistent with Transformational Learning Theory.

Conclusion Participants in this study reported meaningful and strongly positive impacts from the experiences gained during an international rural clinical placement early in their course. They described transformative experiences which appear to contribute strongly to personal development. This finding supports maintaining opportunities for international experiences during rurally-oriented medical programs as these may impact longer term career choice.

Item ID: 76337
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-6920
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2022 23:47
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4299 Other health sciences > 429999 Other health sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2099 Other health > 209999 Other health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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