Medical students give lower marks to training in some specialties

Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | October 9, 2019

More than 1 in 10 graduating medical students ranked their training in obstetrics, surgery, pediatrics and psychiatry as fair or poor.

Graduating Canadian medical students are generally happy with the quality of their training, according to a survey by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC). However, more than 1 in 10 ranked their training in certain specialties as fair or poor.

Of the 2878 medical students eligible to graduate this year in Canada, 67.1% (1931) responded to the AFMC questionnaire. About two-thirds rated their overall medical education as very good or excellent, but they were less satisfied with their training in some specialties. Just over 16% rated their training in surgery and obstetrics and gynecology as fair or poor, while 12.9% gave similarly low marks to pediatrics and 11.6% to psychiatry.

A lack of timely feedback in some specialties may be part of the problem. More than 1 in 10 graduating students disagreed that they received feedback early enough to improve their performance in obstetrics and gynecology (10.5%) and surgery (13.2%).

More than a quarter of graduating students also reported receiving inadequate training in health policy (29.6%), health care systems (25.9%), law and medicine (28.4%), and complementary and alternative medicine (31.1%). Nearly 1 in 5 said they lacked confidence in their ability to counsel patients who use alternative therapies; and nearly 1 in 10 said they lacked confidence using technology to access information during patient encounters.

Overall, however, 95.4% of graduating students felt confident they had the clinical skills required to begin residency. Most also reported being satisfied or very satisfied with career planning services (77.7%) and knowing procedures for reporting mistreatment (83.5%).

Nearly 3 in 5 students indicated they personally experienced mistreatment from faculty, nurses, residents, staff or other students during their training. Among the most common types of mistreatment, 2 in 5 said they were publicly humiliated at least once and nearly a quarter were the target of sexist remarks.

Meanwhile, students were less positive about the wellness supports on offer at their schools; 1 in 4 were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with programs to promote effective stress management, a balanced lifestyle and overall well-being, up from 1 in 5 last year.

Photo credit: iStock.com/SDI Productions


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