Background and objectives: Family medicine clerkships compete with other clinical experiences for a limited amount of available curricular time. The overlap of clinical material covered by other departments raises the possibility that students will realize increased or diminished added value from a family practice rotation if they take it later in the third-year schedule.
Methods: All students (n = 420) in a required third-year clerkship in two geographically distant medical schools completed pre- and post-clerkship multiple choice examinations on the clinical content of family practice. School A has a lock-step schedule; all the clinical rotations are taken in a specific order by all students. School B has a random schedule. These examinations were random samples, stratified by clinical subject area, from the Exam. Kit database, based on the text Essentials of Family Medicine, Second Edition. The difference between the pre- and post-clerkship scores determined the incremental performance.
Results: There was no significant change in incremental performance over the course of the year at either school.
Conclusions: The increased fund of knowledge acquired during a family medicine clerkship, as measured by a multiple choice examination, is not diminished by prior clinical clerkships in other specialties.