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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 16-23

Competence for Internship: Perceptions of Final-Year Medical Students

Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
C E Draper
Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, 7925
South Africa
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Source of Support: National Research Foundation (South Africa) and the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.99202

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Context: A 'new', problem-based medical curriculum was introduced at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2002. The objective of this study was to assess the perceptions of competence for internship and the factors influencing competence of final-year medical students. Methods: Eighteen focus groups were conducted (six per year) with UCT final-year medical students in 2007 (n =27), 2008 (n =27), and 2009 (n =30). Guide questions covered student's expectations of internship, perceptions of competence, priorities regarding competence, and factors influencing competence. Results: Participants felt generally positive about and competent to enter internship, and the transition into internship was characterized as having both personal and professional components. Participants identified interpersonal skills, theoretical grounding, and intellectual ability as strengths, and lack of basic science knowledge and certain procedural skills as weaknesses. Factors influencing competence included personal initiative, motivation, and clinical exposure. Curriculum strengths identified were teaching of interpersonal skills and development of students as lifelong learners. The main weaknesses identified were teaching and assessment of basic sciences, and problem-based learning (PBL). Overall, the participants felt generally positive about internship and the 'new' curriculum, and felt generally competent to enter internship. Their responses highlight the role of confidence in the development of competence. Conclusions: These findings highlight the complexities surrounding perceptions of students about competence and views about the content and methodology of the learning. Perceptions of students regarding competence are an important indicator of the attainment of intended curriculum outcomes, and provide valuable information for the improvement of curriculum.

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