The relationship between medical student learning opportunities and preparedness for practice: a questionnaire study

BMC Med Educ. 2014 Oct 21:14:223. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-14-223.


Background: Alongside providing a knowledge base and practical skills, undergraduate medical education must prepare graduates to immediately begin practice as qualified doctors. A significant challenge is to provide safe learning opportunities that will optimise students' preparedness to start work. This study examined UK graduates' preparedness for clinical practice, and their exposure to real-life and simulated immediate care scenarios during final year placements.

Method: A questionnaire measuring students' perceived preparedness, and their exposure to immediate care scenarios, was distributed to all new Foundation Year 1 doctors (F1s) attending an induction session in one region of the UK.

Results: 356 F1s responded to the questionnaire (91% response rate; 89% of cohort) and data from 344 graduates of UK medical schools were analysed. Respondents were generally prepared for practice, but many reported few 'hands-on' experiences of providing immediate care during final year placements (a median of 1-2 experiences).Those who had 1-2 experiences reported no greater preparedness for acute management than those reporting no experience. Several exposures are necessary for a significant increase in perceived preparedness. Real-life experience was a better predictor of preparedness than simulated practice.

Conclusions: Gaps still remain in medical students' acute care experience, with a direct relationship to their perceived preparedness. The format and facilitation of placements may need to be addressed in order to enhance the quality of experience during final year.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Curriculum / standards
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manikins
  • Mentors
  • Patient Simulation
  • Preceptorship
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult