Learning in student-run clinics: a systematic review

Med Educ. 2015 Mar;49(3):249-63. doi: 10.1111/medu.12625.


Context: Student-run clinics (SRCs) have existed for many years and may provide the most realistic setting for context-based learning and legitimate early clinical experiences with responsibility for patient care. We reviewed the literature on student outcomes of participation in SRCs.

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using the PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO and ERIC databases. Included articles were reviewed for conclusions and outcomes; study quality was assessed using the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument (MERSQI).

Results: A total of 42 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the quantitative synthesis. The effects of participation on students' attitudes were mainly positive: students valued the SRC experience. Data on the effects of SRC participation on students' skills and knowledge were based mainly on expert opinions and student surveys. Students reported improved skills and indicated that they had acquired knowledge they were unlikely to have gained elsewhere in the curriculum. The quality of specific aspects of care delivered by students was comparable with that of regular care.

Conclusions: The suggestion that students should be trained as medical professionals with responsibility for patient care early in the curriculum is attractive. In an SRC this responsibility is central. Students valued the early training opportunity in SRCs and liked participating. However, little is known about the effect of SRC participation on students' skills and knowledge. The quality of care provided by students seemed adequate. Further research is needed to assess the effect of SRC participation on students' skills, knowledge and behaviour.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / organization & administration*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Patient Care
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Students, Medical*
  • Vulnerable Populations