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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-10

An evaluation of a medical student international service-learning experience in Southeast Asia

1 Office of Education, Duke-NUS Medical School; Adolescent Medicine Service, KK Women's and Children's Hospital; Singhealth Duke-NUS Global Health Institute, Singapore
2 Office of Education, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore
3 Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Courtney Davis
Division of Paediatric Medicine, KK Hospital, 100 Bukit Timah Road, 229899
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_265_17

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Background: International service-learning trips (ISLTs) are structured experiences in a different country where students interact and engage in cross-cultural dialog with others. Month-long ISLTs originating from North American or European medical schools enhance clinical acumen, cultural awareness, and global health familiarity. The impact of experiences shorter than 1 month or those that originate from Asia is unknown. We aimed to determine the impact of a short-term ISLT on medical students' clinical and cultural competence. Methods: At Duke-National University Singapore, we developed an ISLT incorporating peer-assisted learning and a 1-week on-site experience delivering supervised primary care, health screening, and health education in an underserved Southeast Asian community. Using a prospective controlled design, we assessed its impact on medical students' clinical and cultural competency using validated surveys. We compared medical students who participated in the ISTL (intervention group) to a control group of students before and after the ISTL experience. We analyzed responses using univariate analysis and the Kruskal–Wallis test. Results: Sixty-six students responded to the survey (100%). After the ISTL, the intervention group (n = 32) showed an increase in their ratings of clinical competency (preexperience mean = 3.39, postexperience mean = 3.81, P < 0.01) as well as an increase in their cultural competency domains (preexperience mean = 3.61, postexperience mean = 4.12, P < 0.01). Post the ISTL, students in the intervention group rated their clinical and cultural competency higher than the control group (n = 34) (clinical: intervention postexperience mean = 3.81, control postexperience mean = 3.30, P < 0.01; cultural: intervention postexperience mean = 4.12, control postexperience mean = 3.50, P < 0.01). After the ISTL, the intervention group reported increased ratings of self-efficacy (pre mean = 3.99, post mean = 4.29, P = 0.021), which were higher than the control group (pre mean = 4.29, post mean = 3.57, P < 0.01). Discussion: This short-term ISLT in an Asian medical school improved students' clinical and cultural competency and self-efficacy. Our findings suggest a positive impact of short-term ISLTs if designed and implemented with a student learning focus.

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