Longitudinal integrated clerkships for medical students: an innovation adopted by medical schools in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United States

Acad Med. 2009 Jul;84(7):902-7. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181a85776.


Purpose: Integrated clinical clerkships represent a relatively new and innovative approach to medical education that uses continuity as an organizing principle, thus increasing patient-centeredness and learner-centeredness. Medical schools are offering longitudinal integrated clinical clerkships in increasing numbers. This report collates the experiences of medical schools that use longitudinal integrated clerkships for medical student education in order to establish a clearer characterization of these experiences and summarize outcome data, when possible.

Method: The authors sent an e-mail survey with open text responses to 17 medical schools with known longitudinal integrated clerkships.

Results: Sixteen schools in four countries on three continents responded to the survey. Fifteen institutions have active longitudinal integrated clerkships in place. Two programs began before 1995, but the others are newer. More than 2,700 students completed longitudinal integrated clerkships in these schools. The median clerkship length is 40 weeks, and in 15 of the schools, the core clinical content was in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics-gynecology. Eleven schools reported supportive student responses to the programs. No differences were noted in nationally normed exam scores between program participants and those in the traditional clerkships. Limited outcomes data suggest that students who participate in these programs are more likely to enter primary care careers.

Conclusions: This study documents the increasing use of longitudinal integrated clerkships and provides initial insights for institutions that may wish to develop similar clinical programs. Further study will be needed to assess the long-term impact of these programs on medical education and workforce initiatives.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Clinical Clerkship / organization & administration*
  • Clinical Clerkship / standards
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / trends
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Curriculum / standards*
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Education
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Schools, Medical
  • South Africa
  • Specialty Boards
  • United States