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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 374

Postgraduates' Perceptions of Preparedness for Work as a Doctor and Making Future Career Decisions: Support for Rural, Non-traditional Medical Schools

The University of Queensland, Rural Clinical School, School of Medicine, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

Correspondence Address:
D S Eley
Locked Bag 9009, Toowoomba 4350 Queensland
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 20853241

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Introduction: The intern year is a critical time for making career decisions and gaining confidence in clinical skills, communication and teamwork practices; this justifies an interest in junior doctors' perceptions of their level of preparedness for hospital work. This study explored Australian junior doctors' perspectives regarding the transition from student to doctor roles, their preparation as medical undergraduates within either traditional metropolitan schools or smaller, outer metropolitan-based (rural) programs such as Rural Clinical Schools (RCS), and the educational environment they experienced in their internship. Methods: A qualitative cross-sectional design used semi-structured interviews with postgraduate year one and two junior doctors (9 females and 11 males) within teaching hospitals in Queensland Australia. Interview questions focussed on four major content areas: preparedness for hospital work, undergraduate training, building confidence and career advice. Data were analyzed using a framework method to identify and explore major themes. Results: Junior doctors who spent undergraduate years training at smaller, non-traditional medical schools felt more confident and better prepared at internship. More hands-on experience as students, more patient contact and a better grounding in basic sciences were felt by interns to be ideal for building confidence. Junior doctors perceived a general lack of career guidance in both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching environments to help them with the transition from the student to junior doctor roles. Discussion: Findings are congruent with studies that have confirmed student opinion on the higher quality of undergraduate medical training outside a traditional metropolitan-based program, such as a RCS. The serious shortage of doctors in rural and remote Australia makes these findings particularly relevant. It will be important to gain a better understanding of how smaller nontraditional medical programs build confidence and feelings of work readiness in graduates. Career advice should become a more regular part of the medical education continuum.

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