Pre-registration house officers' views on studying under a reformed medical curriculum in the UK

Simon Watmough, Anne Garden, David Taylor
Medical Education 2006, 40 (9): 893-9
In 1996 the University of Liverpool introduced a new curriculum based on the recommendations published in Tomorrow's Doctors. This work examines how graduates of that course view their undergraduate curriculum and whether they consider it prepared them well for the pre-registration year. Five focus groups were arranged with a selection of graduates from the first cohort to graduate from the reformed curriculum in order to ascertain their views on the course and how it had prepared them to work as pre-registration house officers (PRHOs). The focus groups were tape-recorded, transcribed and analysed. The PRHOs felt they had been well prepared for the PRHO year, citing the clinical experience of the final year, communication skills classes and the Clinical Skills Resource Centre as having been particularly beneficial. There were concerns about their basic science knowledge base although this had not affected their ability to work as PRHOs. They had criticisms of the way part of their course had been structured but overall they were happy with the content of the course. A reformed medical curriculum in the UK can prepare graduates well to work as junior doctors and can take away some of the anxiety associated with graduation; therefore, to that extent curriculum reform has worked. However, anxiety about undertaking the role of junior doctor seems to have been replaced by anxiety about knowledge base, despite having adequate knowledge to work as PRHOs. Students undertaking a reformed curriculum are wary about being the first people to use their training in the workplace. This factor may need to be considered when further reforms are introduced.

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