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Med Teach. 2009 Jul;31(7):621-6.

Maturity and medical students' ease of transition into the clinical environment.

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University of Manchester, UK.



Medical education has been characterized in terms of points of transition, which are accentuated by lack of relevant prior experience and can lead to extreme positive and negative emotions.


Quantify the effect of maturity on medical students' transitions into the clinical environment and identify how experiences of transition might be improved.


Eleven weeks after entering the clinical environment, 29 mature students (age over 21 at entry, median age 22) in a horizontally-integrated, predominantly undergraduate entry, problem-based curriculum offering little early clinical exposure and 58 matched non-mature students (median age 18 years) rated their experiences of transition and wrote free text comments about them.


62% of mature students compared with 24% of controls described 'good transitions' (odds ratio [OR] for a good transition 6.1; p = 0.002) and mature students were more likely than controls to describe how they drew on their previous years in medical school (OR 2.7, p = 0.04) and their wider life experiences in making the transition (OR 3.9, p = 0.01). They were less likely to feel confused or daunted. Whether mature or not, prior workplace experience, having learned the theory of medicine by PBL, and being confident in their knowledge and skills helped students' transitions. Both mature and non-mature students valued the support of teachers and peers and would have valued clinical experience earlier.


The fact that just a few extra years of life experience made such a large difference to students' experiences of transition illustrates how important social factors are in the personal development of medical students. In respondents' views, early clinical experience and early skills training could ease students' passage into the clerkship phase of their education.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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