Listening to the learners: medical student perspectives of their first psychiatry rotation
student perspective, psychiatry, clinical experience The importance of student’s perspectives in informing curricula and pedagogy has long been recognised, however pragmatically student’s viewpoints are under-utilized. Within the sphere of medical education, specifically psychiatry the published literature predominantly focuses upon students attitudes. Although this is an important area of inquiry it does little to inform us of the student’s broader experiences. In the context of the rapid changes that have taken place in medical education such macro-level knowledge will assist in both evaluating and evolving educational strategies. This study explores medical student’s experiences and perspectives of their first clinical psychiatry rotation in a regional, graduate entry medical school that employs a case-based learning curriculum with a significant focus upon community-based clinical education. Seventy-three medical students in their first year of hospital based clinical rotations participated in this study, a 92% response rate. They completed a brief questionnaire containing both structured and unstructured questions. The qualitative responses were analysed and coded into thematic groups. Five themes were evident; ‘staff’ (academic and clinical), ‘breadth of experience’ (range of student experiences), ‘course materials and structure’ (learning objectives, course handbook and tutorials), ‘attitudes towards psychiatry’ (student’s attitudes) and ‘professional development’ (the acquisition of skills necessary throughout their career). The 2 most predominant themes were ‘staff’ and ‘breadth of experience’. The themes identified reflect the current academic recommendations for teaching psychiatry to medical students, although ‘course materials and structure’ is not as well recognised in the literature. It is recommended that future research seek to delineate the perceptions of medical student’s educational experiences and how these link with the prevailing academic aims.