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Eval Health Prof. 2001 Mar;24(1):61-71.

The loss of student idealism in the 3rd-year clinical clerkships.

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University of Kentucky College of Medicine, USA.


The purpose of this study was to specify how student attitudes toward different types of patients and the profession change during clinical rotations. A questionnaire was given to all medical students prior to 3rd-year rotations regarding their attitudes toward the medical profession and patient types. It was given again after students completed their 16-week medicine-surgery clerkship. Eighty-eight of 96 students responded to pre- and posttests. Students became less idealistic toward two patient groups: the elderly and people with chronic pain. After clerkship, students believed a greater percentage of the elderly were demented (26% increasing to 35%, p = .09 and that a greater percentage of patients with chronic pain are drug seekers (15% increasing to 24%, p = .004). The authors conclude that in the 3rd year of medical school students become less idealistic toward elderly patients, those with chronic pain, and the profession.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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