Compared to 2000, significantly more newly qualified doctors believe that their medical school training prepares them well for their first clinical posts, according to research published in the online open access journal, BMC Medical Education.
The research team, led by Judith Cave from the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, sent out questionnaires in 2005 to all doctors newly qualified from UK medical schools; more than half of those who responded said that their experience at medical school had prepared them well for their first year of employment. A similar survey conducted in 2000/2001 found that only about third of doctors qualifying in those years felt prepared for their first year of work.
Between 2000 and 2005 graduates' feeling of "preparedness" increased at 19 medical schools, dropped in three schools and stayed stable in one school.
These findings suggest that the significant changes in the curriculum and teaching methods at most medical schools are beginning to have an impact. In 1993 the General Medical Council published the report Tomorrow's Doctors. It highlighted the need for changes in the medical curriculum and teaching methods (e.g. problem-based learning) so that students would be "properly prepared for their first day as a Pre Registration House Officer."
This study found evidence that these changes are having an effect: in the 2005 cohort, a statistically significantly higher percentage of the respondents from schools with new-style courses felt well prepared.
"The results of this study are encouraging," says Cave "Some of the improvements in the doctors' perceptions of their preparation are attributable to the updated courses. However, there's still cause for concern as, despite the improvements, in 2005 about 15% of doctors still did not feel well prepared. There is also a striking variation between the responses of doctors from different medical schools."
These results should be interpreted with caution, however. "There's no good evidence that those who feel unprepared are actually unprepared," says Dr. Cave, " and doctors' first year of medical work provides a supervised transition from medical student to fully registered medical practitioner."
Article: Judith Cave, Michael Goldacre, Trevor Lambert, Kath Woolf, Alison Jones and Jane Dacre "Newly qualified doctors' views about whether their medical school had trained them well: questionnaire surveys" BMC Medical Education
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