Medical Students Can Learn Surgery Effectively in a Rural Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship

J Surg Educ. 2020 May 22;S1931-7204(20)30122-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2020.04.007. Online ahead of print.


Background: At Deakin University School of Medicine, compulsory formal teaching in Surgery occurs in year 3. This may occur as part of a rural longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC), or in a traditional teaching hospital block rotation (BR). The purpose of this study was to compare these groups' exposure to surgical common conditions and their academic outcomes.

Methods: Part I: This was a survey of students' encounters with patients with common surgical conditions between 2016 and 2018. Self-reported data were collected describing the nature of the encounters and their clinical settings. Part II: All third year Surgery MCQ and OSCE results from 2011 to 2017 were analyzed. Students were deidentified and grouped according to whether they were in the LIC or BR programme.

Results: Part I: Thirty-eight third year students (20 LIC, 18 BR) submitted data for a total of 188 clinical encounters. Both groups encountered all nominated common surgical conditions, but the settings in which this occurred were different. BR students saw most patients as hospital inpatients whereas LIC student encounters were distributed across multiple clinical sites. Part II: A total of 942 (121 [26%] LIC and 821 [74%] BR) students' assessment results were analyzed. The groups performed similarly in the MCQ (p = 0.21) and OSCE (p = 0.16) examinations.

Conclusions: Students who were taught surgery in a LIC program performed similarly to on their final exams to their peers in traditional clerkships, with self-reported student data indicating both groups encountered a similar range of conditions.

Keywords: Longitudinal integrated clerkship; Rural clinical education; Surgical education.