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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 20-23

“Doctor, teacher, translator:” International medical students' experiences of clinical teaching on an English language undergraduate medical course in China

1 Medical School, University College London, 74 Huntley Street, London, United Kingdom
2 School of Medicine, Ningbo University, Ningbo, Zhejiang 315211, PR China

Correspondence Address:
Mohammed Ahmed Rashid
GF/664, University College London Medical School, Royal Free Hospital, London, NW3 2PF
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_212_19

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Background: Like many Chinese universities, Ningbo University (NBU) has two undergraduate medical courses – one taught in Mandarin for domestic students, and one taught in English for international students. This study examines the experiences of medical students who recently completed the English language program that has a particular focus on clinical placements. Methods: In-depth, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 final year medical students at NBU in April 2019. Transcripts were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: All medical student participants were non native English speakers and had a limited grasp of Chinese. Their clinical teachers were all fluent in Chinese and had variable command of English. The large majority of patients in the teaching hospitals where placements took place spoke only in Chinese. Despite the obvious challenges arising from this, students still had predominantly positive experiences of clinical placements. Although students recognized that their clinical teachers' English proficiency was variable, they felt that other attributes, such as enthusiasm, interactivity, and a desire to teach were more important factors to their learning experiences. Discussion: Despite challenging linguistic circumstances, non native English-speaking students were able to navigate the challenges of studying clinical medicine from teachers with limited English language skills and with patients who spoke virtually no English. Further studies should explore the perceptions of teachers of the program, and graduate outcomes when these students enter the workplace. Educators involved in supporting international medical students should note that non technical curricular areas such as professionalism may require greater attention where language barriers exist.

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