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Med Educ. 2004 Nov;38(11):1154-63.

Anxiety in medical students: is preparation for full-time clinical attachments more dependent upon differences in maturity or on educational programmes for undergraduate and graduate entry students?

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St George's Hospital Medical School, London, UK.



The transition to full-time clinical studies holds anxieties for most medical students. While graduate entry medical education has only recently begun in the UK, the parallel undergraduate and graduate entry MBBS courses taught at our school allowed us to study how 2 differently prepared groups perceived this vital time at a comparable stage in their training.


An anonymous questionnaire collected demographic data and graded anxiety in 13 statements relating to starting full-time clinical attachments. Two open questions allowed free text comment on the most positive and negative influences perceived during this time. Both a statistical analysis and a qualitative assessment were performed to compare the 2 groups of students.


The 2 groups were similar with respect to gender but the graduate entry students were significantly older. The graduate entry students were significantly less anxious about most aspects of the transition period compared to the undergraduates. These course differences remained after adjusting for age and sex. When adjusted for course and age, male students expressed less anxiety. The main positive qualitative statements related to continual clinical and communication skills training in the graduate entry group. The main qualitative concerns in both groups related to 'fitting in' and perceived lack of factual knowledge.


These data support the early introduction of clinical skills teaching, backed up by a fully integrated clinically relevant curriculum with continued assessment, in preparing students and reducing levels of anxiety before they start full-time clinical attachments. These course design differences appear to be more important than any differences in maturity between the 2 groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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