Final Project Report for the Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand (MDANZ)

A study funded by the Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand identifying the benefits to health services of medical student clinical placements, conducted by a team from the Department of Medical Education.

Experiential learning in clinical environments is key to developing work-ready graduates. For health services providing these workplace environments, there is a cost of supervisor time away from patient care. Universities are under pressure to contribute to the costs of clinical placements, and therefore there is a need to identify the benefits of clinical placements for health services.

The data suggest that there is an incremental shift in how students contribute based on their level of experience within the course. In their final year of study, students contributed like junior members of the team: for example, taking patient histories, attending to patient or family member questions on ward rounds, or completing discharge planning. Students who took on these activities not only personally gained from the learning experience, but in absorbing ‘busy jobs’ they were able to free up more experienced members of the team to undertake more complex tasks. The results suggest that students help with workflow, and amplify the quality of care.