'They don't know much about us': educational reform impacts on students' learning in the clinical environment

Natalie Wray, Louise McCall
Advances in Health Sciences Education: Theory and Practice 2009, 14 (5): 665-76
Placements are an integral component of the medical, nursing, and allied health curriculum. Literature on problem-based learning indicates that curriculum change can impact student experience. However, outside of the nursing literature, there is little research on the impact of education reform on students' experiences of placements. This paper reports on medical, midwifery and paramedic students' perception of the impact of education reform they experienced in the clinical setting. A qualitative study using a semi-structured schedule was conducted. Data was collected using focus groups (17), individual interviews (48) and written responses (2) from undergraduate students (103) and graduates (27) from a tertiary institution in Victoria, Australia. Recorded interviews were analysed, coded and categorised into themes. Whilst students indicated they were prepared for the impact of educational reform on their placement experience, they perceived that clinical educators responsible for teaching them were less prepared. Three themes were identified from the data: clinical educator's lack of familiarity with new curriculum, clinical educator's negative attitudes to curricular change and looking to the future. Our study advances the understanding of the implications of education reform during the clinical placement of medical, midwifery, and paramedic students. Whilst important lessons can be learned from the medical and nursing literature this study highlights that staff responsible for curriculum change need to action change management process to ensure that the clinical educators are able to deliver the revised program.

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