Barriers to outpatient education for medical students: a narrative review

Int J Med Educ. 2019 Sep 27;10:180-190. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5d76.32c5.


Objectives: This study surveys medical education literature published over the last 25 years (1993-2018) to identify the factors scholars consider deleterious to outpatient teaching for medical students.

Methods: This study conducts a review of medical education literature published between 1993 and 2018 using Medline, Lilacs, Ibecs, Cochrane Library, and Scielo databases. The following search terms were utilized: "Education, Medical, Undergraduate" AND "Ambulatory Care" AND "Teaching/methods" OR "Clinical Clerkship" OR "Preceptorship." This study focuses on papers describing deleterious factors for outpatient teaching with medical students and analyzes their results, discussions, and conclusions sections.

Results: Of the 363 articles obtained, this study selected 33 for analysis. These papers identify numerous factors as barriers to outpatient education. For didactic purposes, these factors are categorized into four barrier groups: environment-institution, academic staff, students, and patients. Academic staff-related teaching barrier was the most frequently mentioned obstacle. Intense care schedule with little teaching time was considered the most common and relevant barrier to outpatient medical education, followed by inappropriate teaching environment and inadequate supervision model.

Conclusions: There is a lack of recent literature on studies focusing on barriers to effective outpatient medical education. Factors identified as harmful to outpatient education have been pointed out by course directors, academic staff, and students in the literature. However, many of these factors remain overlooked by educators, who can use these factors to modify their academic activities for more effective results.

Keywords: ambulatory care; clinical clerkship; education; medical; preceptorship; teaching methods; undergraduate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Education, Medical / trends
  • Humans
  • Students, Medical*
  • Teaching / standards
  • Teaching / trends