ENT Experience in a Family Medicine Clerkship: Is There Enough?

Fam Med. Nov-Dec 2000;32(10):691-5.


Background: Curriculum planning is an essential process at any institution of learning. Currently, at Indiana University, a 1-week required otorhinolaryngology clerkship is being considered for removal from the curriculum, and this exposure is planned for integration into other primary care clerkships. A data collection system for patient encounters was created to obtain objective quantitative data about ear, nose, and throat conditions in the family medicine clerkship.

Methods: A total of 445 students filled out 56,151 patient encounter forms that contained the diagnoses, patient age, student comfort levels, and student responsibilities.

Results: Of the 56,151 encounters, 22.9% involved a condition involving an ear, nose, or throat (ENT) diagnosis, and the overall top-10 diagnoses reflect a typical family practice. Few students reported being given the opportunity to perform procedures.

Conclusions: It appears that students are receiving sufficient practice in taking patient histories and performing initial patient physicals for ENT cases and that they see a sufficient number of ENT cases. However, students had more limited opportunity to perform and/or assist with ENT procedures or to be involved with patient education and ENT counseling. The number of ENT cases in the third-year clerkship is sufficient, and the experience is mostly more than adequate. Our study indicates that ENT training is a significant part of the family medicine clerkship, and curriculum integration is possible, though concerns about procedural skills will need to be addressed.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Curriculum
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • Otolaryngology / education*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / classification
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / diagnosis