Clinical teaching site does not affect test performance in an emergency medicine clerkship

Acad Emerg Med. 2011 Jul;18(7):741-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2011.01104.x. Epub 2011 Jul 5.


Objectives: Increasing the size of medical school classes has resulted in the use of community hospitals for emergency medicine (EM) clerkships. While differences in clinical experience are expected, it is unclear if they are significant. The authors set out to investigate whether or not clinical site affects student performance on a standard written exam as a measure of medical knowledge.

Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of data from 2005 to 2009 for a mandatory fourth-year EM clerkship at one institution that uses academic (EM residency), hybrid (residency training site but not EM), and community (no residency programs) hospitals as clerkship sites. Multiple variable linear regression was used to examine the relationship between clerkship site and end of clerkship written exam score. Additional covariates included were the time of year the rotation was completed (by 3- or 4-month tertiles) and whether the student matched in EM. As test scores increased over the study period, a time factor was also included to account for this trend. A p-value of <0.05 was required for variable retention in the model.

Results: A total of 718 students completed the clerkship and had complete data for analysis. Thirty-five students matched in EM. A total of 311 rotated at academic sites, 304 at hybrid sites, and 103 at community sites. After adjusting for covariates, clinical site was not a significant predictor of exam score (F(2,691) = 0.42, p = 0.65). Factors associated with higher test score were student match in EM (beta coefficient = 3.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.0 to 5.7) and rotation in July through September (beta coefficient = 1.8, 95% CI = 0.5 to 3.0, against a reference of January through April). No significant interaction terms or confounders were identified.

Conclusions: This study found no evidence that clerkship site affected final exam score. Academic EM clerkships may consider partnering with other hospitals for clinical experiences without compromising education.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Clerkship / organization & administration*
  • Clinical Clerkship / standards
  • Clinical Competence
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Program Evaluation