How do undergraduate medical students learn ophthalmology in a clinical environment?

Geraldine McBride, Peter Cantillon


Aim: This phenomenological study looked at the nature of undergraduate medical student learning in an ophthalmology environment. The study set out to identify what influences the quality of medical students’ educational experience in ophthalmology. The study was conducted on 17 final-year medical students from a medical school in the west of Ireland, after undertaking their 3-week combined clinicalbased ophthalmology/neurology programme at a tertiary referral teaching hospital.

Methods: Learning diaries were used as a reflective tool for recording the learners’ personal learning experiences. A primary analysis of the diaries was used to formulate a topic guide for semi-structured interviews with each of the participating students. Template analysis was used to code the data, create themes and establish thematic hierarchies.

Results: Individual students’ learning experiences were affected by intra-personal and inter-personal factors. Inter-personal factors included the quality of the learner–teacher relationship and the interaction between peer learners. Intra-personal factors were individual perceptions of what was expected of the students by tutors and by the medical school.

Conclusion: To create positive and effective learning environments for learners in ophthalmology and orthoptics, teachers should become much more aware of themselves as models of practice and should take time to observe students perform as well as provide feedback.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Geraldine McBride, Peter Cantillon

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