The importance of student’s perspectives in informing curricula
and pedagogy has long been recognised, however pragmatically
student’s viewpoints are under-utilized. Within the sphere of
medical education, specifically psychiatry the published literature
predominantly focuses upon students attitudes. Although this is an
important area of inquiry it does little to inform us of the student’s
broader experiences. In the context of the rapid changes that have
taken place in medical education such macro-level knowledge will
assist in both evaluating and evolving educational strategies. This
study explores medical student’s experiences and perspectives of
their first clinical psychiatry rotation in a regional, graduate entry
medical school that employs a case-based learning curriculum with
a significant focus upon community-based clinical education.
Seventy-three medical students in their first year of hospital based
clinical rotations participated in this study, a 92% response rate.
They completed a brief questionnaire containing both structured
and unstructured questions. The qualitative responses were analysed
and coded into thematic groups. Five themes were evident;
‘staff’ (academic and clinical), ‘breadth of experience’ (range of
student experiences), ‘course materials and structure’ (learning
objectives, course handbook and tutorials), ‘attitudes towards
psychiatry’ (student’s attitudes) and ‘professional development’
(the acquisition of skills necessary throughout their career). The 2
most predominant themes were ‘staff’ and ‘breadth of experience’.
The themes identified reflect the current academic recommendations
for teaching psychiatry to medical students, although ‘course
materials and structure’ is not as well recognised in the literature.
It is recommended that future research seek to delineate the
perceptions of medical student’s educational experiences and how
these link with the prevailing academic aims.