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Student attitudes to surgical teaching in provincial hospitals

Bruening, Martin H., Maddern, Guy J.
The Australian journal of rural health 2003 v.11 no.3 pp. 121-123
attitudes and opinions, curriculum, educational methods, hospitals, medical education, planning, questionnaires, rural areas, rural health, students, surgery, surveys, South Australia
Objective: The ever‐increasing pressure on metropolitan teaching hospitals to rationalise budgets and increase productivity has resulted in a dwindling amount of teaching opportunity for the medical student population. One solution to the problem was to utilise a largely untapped resource in South Australia, namely the provincial hospitals, however, student opinion regarding such a radical change had yet to be determined. Design: A questionnaire was circulated among an entire year group of medical students who would be undertaking the revised surgical curriculum with rural attachments. Setting: In October 1997, a decision was made by the Department of Surgery at the University of Adelaide to proceed with optional rural surgical attachments in 1998. Subjects: The survey was distributed to the 125 members of the 1997 fifth year medical student group. Results: A total of 92 questionnaires were returned giving a response rate of 75%. Thirty‐nine students ranked a rural term in their top half of preferences, while a further 18 indicated that they would go to a rural centre if they had to. Conclusion: Despite having little warning of the impending changes to their surgical curriculum, the majority of students who responded to the questionnaire stated that they would be willing to venture to the country locations. Before planning significant changes to an established curriculum, the student group should be consulted to gauge their opinion. What is already known: Within the medical literature, studies have been performed with regard to student opinions regarding postgraduate internships in rural locations, but to our knowledge, this survey represents the first study into student opinion with particular reference to rural surgical attachments prior to their commencement within a medical school curriculum. What this study adds: As a result of this study, it can now be concluded that a considerable amount of interest exists within the student population to undertake rural surgical rotations.