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J Gen Intern Med. 1986 Jul-Aug;1(4):232-7.

Enhancing learning during a clinical clerkship: the value of a structured curriculum.


Third-year clerkships, organized around clinical experiences, may provide students with an uneven or narrowly focused fund of clinical knowledge. This paper describes the results of a comparative trial in which a structured curriculum, based on learning objectives, was introduced into an internal medicine clerkship at one of three teaching hospitals of a single medical school; the other two hospitals, providing similar patient care experiences, were used for comparison purposes. Students who did their clerkship at the hospital using the structured curriculum scored significantly higher on the Medicine section of the National Board Part II examination when scores were adjusted for past academic performance. The structured curriculum was very well received and, according to student perceptions, achieved the goal of expanding their basic clinical knowledge beyond that derived from reading only in connection with patient care. These results support the use of curricular guidelines and objectives as a means of enhancing students' cognitive experience during clinical clerkships.

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