Objectives: To promote safe prescribing and administration of medicines in the pre-registration house officer (PRHO) year through a programme of structured teaching and assessment for final year medical students.
Design: Forty final year medical students from two medical schools were randomly allocated either to participate in a pharmacist facilitated teaching session or to receive no additional teaching. Teaching comprised five practical exercises covering seven skills through which students rotated in small groups. One month later, a random sample of 16 taught and 16 non-taught students participated in a nine-station objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) to assess the impact of the teaching.
Setting: Manchester School of Medicine (MSM), and Kings College School of Medicine and Dentistry (KCSMD).
Participants: Final year medical student volunteers.
Main outcome measures: The need for teaching as indicated by student prior experience; questionnaire rating of student acceptability of teaching and assessment; self-rating of student confidence post-assessment, and student performance assessed by OSCE.
Results: The study demonstrated that the taught group achieved higher scores in eight OSCE stations. Four of these were statistically significant (P < or= 0.005). Taught students felt more confident performing the skills on five stations. From 0 to 47.5% students had prior experience of the skills taught. The post-teaching questionnaire evaluated exercises positively on several criteria, including provision of new information and relevance to future work.
Conclusions: Structured teaching provided an effective and acceptable method of teaching the medicines management skills needed in the PRHO year. The structured approach complemented variable precourse clinical experience.