Aims To ascertain whether the clinical objectives for 4th year medical students on paediatric attachments were being met by evaluating the learning opportunities available to them.
Background Recent research shows a decline in the number of foundation trainees selecting paediatrics. Students have previously described their attachment as too emotional and clinical experience too limited to make an informed choice about paediatrics as one of their career options. There are numerous skills to be learnt over a relatively short period of time. Moreover, skills such as history-taking and clinical examinations acquired over adult clinical exposure are not entirely transferrable to children hence it is anticipated that they do so with apprehension.
Methods A questionnaire was developed and made available online. The list of clinical skills and examinations used in this questionnaire were derived from the set of learning objectives provided to students prior to their placement. In addition to basic demographics, frequency of clinical skills, history-taking and the confidence at which they were performed were collected. Data was collected from 90 medical students.
Results Only a proportion of students could identify a cardiopulmonary arrest on their attachment. This could be explained by lack of confidence in interacting with children. It appears that District General Hospitals offer more learning opportunities in paediatrics than tertiary institutions.
Conclusions Learning objectives are not being met by all students on attachment at St George’s Medical School London. This could be due to the lack of learning opportunities such as teaching, feedback given and varying clinical environments.