Voluntary assignments during the pediatric clerkship to enhance the clinical experiences of medical students in the United States

J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2020;17:17. doi: 10.3352/jeehp.2020.17.17. Epub 2020 May 27.


Purpose: Pediatric clerkships that utilize off-campus clinical sites ensure clinical comparability by requiring completion of patient-focused tasks. Some tasks may not be attainable (especially off-campus); thus, they are not assigned. The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of providing a voluntary assignment list to third-year medical students in their pediatric clerkship.

Methods: This is a retrospective single-center cross-sectional analysis of voluntary assignment completion during the 2019–2020 academic year. Third-year medical students were provided a voluntary assignment list (observe a procedure, use an interpreter phone to obtain a pediatric history, ask a preceptor to critique a clinical note, and follow-up on a patient after the rotation ends). Descriptive statistics were used to assess the timing and distribution of voluntary assignment completion.

Results: In total, 132 subjects (77 on the main campus, 55 off-campus) were included. Eighteen (13.6%) main-campus and 16 (12.1%) off-campus students completed at least 1 voluntary assignment. The following voluntary assignments were completed: observe a procedure (15, 11.4%), use an interpreter phone (26, 19.7%), ask a preceptor to critique a clinical note (12, 9.1%), and follow-up on a patient after the rotation ends (7, 5.3%). Off-campus students completed the assignments more often (29.1%) than on-campus students (23.4%)

Conclusion: Our clerkship values specific patient-focused tasks that may enhance student development, but are not attainable at all clinical sites. When provided a voluntary assignment list, 34 out of 132 students (25.8%) completed them. Clerkships that utilize off-campus sites should consider this approach to optimize the pediatric educational experience.

Keywords: Educational measurement; Undergraduate medical education; Clinical clerkship; Patient-focused care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Preceptorship*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical*
  • United States