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Int J Med Educ. 2019 May 24;10:98-105. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5ce1.149f.

Student feedback experiences in a cross-border medical education curriculum.

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Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Clinical Pharmacist, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar.
Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar.



To determine non-Western situated health professional student experiences and preferences for feedback in workplace-based settings.


We conducted five focus groups with 27 students of Arab-origin enrolled in a Canadian-accredited cross-border pharmacy program in Qatar. Transcripts of recorded discussions were analyzed using the framework method.  Hofstede's and Hall's cultural dimension models were employed to understand described feedback encounters and behaviours.


We identified three themes associated with cultural influences on student feedback experiences, namely: 1) collectivism; 2) power distance; and 3) context.  Trainees described clinical supervisors who inadequately recognized individual performance, rejected critique, and insufficiently documented feedback onto the written in-training evaluation report. Conversely, students expected specific and timely feedback, invited criticism for learning, and desired clear written commentary.


Feedback behaviours of clinical supervisors, but not those of trainees, were consistent with local cultural norms as described by Hofstede and Hall.  Instead, feedback expectations of pharmacy students in Qatar largely echo those of other trainees enrolled in professional curricula situated outside the Middle East. Principles for optimal feedback in clinical training largely arise from Western perspectives but are not necessarily universal. Our work demonstrates that practices, in part, may be subject to local socio-cultural influences.  This is of particular importance in the experiential training component of cross-border medical education programs adopted by overseas institutions. Our findings also further add to the growing body of literature reporting suboptimal feedback in workplace-based learning, reinforcing the need to cultivate more student-centered practices in health professional training globally.


culture; feedback; pharmacy; workplace-based training

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