Background: In Australia, in an environment undergoing rapidly changing requirements for health services, there is an urgent need for future practitioners to be knowledgeable, skilful and self-motivated in ensuring the quality and safety of their practice. Postgraduate medical education and vocational programs have responded by incorporating training in quality improvement into continuing professional development requirements, but undergraduate medical education has been slower to respond.
Aims: This article describes the clinical audit programme undertaken by all students in the final year of the medical course at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Australia, and examines the educational worth of this approach.
Methods: Data were obtained from curricular documents, including the clinical audit handbook, and from evaluation questionnaires administered to students and supervisors.
Results: The clinical audit programme is based on sound educational principles, including situated and participatory learning and reflective practice. It has demonstrated multi-dimensional benefits for students in terms of learning the complexities of conducting an effective audit in professional practice, and for health services in terms of facilitating quality improvement.
Conclusion: Although this programme was developed in a medical course, the concept is readily transferable to a variety of other health professional curricula in which students undertake clinical placements.