Patients' attitudes and comfort levels regarding medical students' involvement in obstetrics-gynecology outpatient clinics

Acad Med. 2000 Oct;75(10):1010-4. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200010000-00018.


Purpose: To identify patients' attitudes toward the role of medical students, their preferences regarding medical student involvement, and their comfort level with a medical student's presence during common clinical situations in obstetrics-gynecology.

Method: A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to patients waiting for an office visit with the obstetricians or gynecologists who served as preceptors for both male and female medical students. The questionnaire asked patients about their comfort levels with having medical students present during commonly encountered clinical situations. A random subsample of these patients were also asked whether they would allow a medical student to be present during future visits, and why or why not.

Results: A total of 229 patients completed the survey and 124 responded to the supplemental survey. Sixteen respondents were excluded due to missing data or a lack of an adequate comparison group. A majority responded they would feel comfortable having a medical student present during most clinical situations. Almost half of the patients preferred to see the doctor and medical student together, while less than a quarter wanted to see just the physician. Patients with more experience with medical students were more likely to favor medical student involvement and would feel more comfortable having a medical student present during obstetrics or gynecology clinical situations.

Conclusion: Patients are willing to involve and feel comfortable with medical students in the obstetrics-gynecology clinic. However, physicians and clinics need to take steps to ensure that patient willingness and comfort are maintained by asking patients about their comfort with medical student involvement, clearly outlining the roles and responsibilities of participating medical students, and gradually increasing medical students' responsibilities as patients gain more experience with them.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Female
  • Gynecology / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obstetrics / education*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States