Medical EducationOriginal Article

Introduction to Clerkship: Bridging the Gap Between Preclinical and Clinical Medical Education

Christopher A. Butts, DO, PhD; Jacqueline J. Speer, DO; John J. Brady, III, DO; Ryan J. Stephenson, DO; Erik Langenau, DO, MS; Robert DiTomasso, PhD; Kerin Fresa, PhD; Michael Becker, DO; and Arthur Sesso, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: November 6, 2018

Accepted: November 19, 2018

Published: September 1, 2019

J Osteopath Med; 119(9): 578-587

Context: Despite a diverse range of curricular advancements to address the difficult transition from classroom learning to clinical training during medical education, hurdles persist. A 4-week course was designed at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) to make this transition easier.

Objectives: To determine whether PCOM students’ comfort and preparedness increased after taking a 4-week clinical transition course before third-year clinical clerkships, and to determine whether faculty perceptions of student preparedness and comfort were improved after participation in the course compared with previous third-year students.

Methods: Second-year osteopathic medical students at PCOM participated in a 4-week course, Introduction to Clinical Clerkship (I2C). The course included 16 small-group exercises, which all took place before students began their third-year clerkship rotations. The exercises in the course extended beyond the skills learned during their classroom years. Students were given a pre- and postcourse survey to evaluate their comfort level with 58 different aspects of clinical practice. Participating faculty were surveyed to evaluate their perception of student preparedness and comfort compared with previous third-year students who had not undergone the exercise.

Results: After completing the I2C course, third-year osteopathic medical students (n=232) reported increased comfort with 57 of the 58 learning objectives and each of the 5 coded clinical competency areas (patient assessment, effective communication, hospital logistics, procedural skills, and core knowledge) (P<.01). Preceptors reported that students who completed the I2C course were more prepared (54.5%) and more comfortable (63.4%) with clinical duties, as compared with their recollections of previous third-year osteopathic medical students.

Conclusions: Within the 5 competencies, students on average felt more comfortable and were perceived by faculty as better prepared than previous students who had not taken the I2C course. The establishment of a preclinical transition exercise appears to help bridge the gap between the preclinical and clinical years. This learning model allows medical students to feel both more comfortable and better prepared throughout the transition from classroom learning to clinical rotations.

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