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Workplace learning through peer groups in medical school clerkships

  • Author(s): Chou, CL
  • Teherani, A
  • Masters, DE
  • Vener, M
  • Wamsley, M
  • Poncelet, A
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2014 Calvin L. Chou et al. Purpose: When medical students move from the classroom into clinical practice environments, their roles and learning challenges shift dramatically from a formal curricular approach to a workplace learning model. Continuity among peers during clinical clerkships may play an important role in this different mode of learning. We explored students' perceptions about how they achieved workplace learning in the context of intentionally formed or ad hoc peer groups. Method: We invited students in clerkship program models with continuity (CMCs) and in traditional block clerkships (BCs) to complete a survey about peer relationships with open-ended questions based on aworkplace learning framework, including themes of workplace-based relationships, the nature of work practices, and selection of tasks and activities. We conducted qualitative content analysis to characterize students' experiences. Results: In both BCs and CMCs, peer groups provided rich resources, including anticipatory guidance about clinical expectations of students, best practices in interacting with patients and supervisors, helpful advice in transitioning between rotations, and information about implicit rules of clerkships. Students also used each other as benchmarks for gauging strengths and deficits in their own knowledge and skills. Conclusions: Students achieve many aspects of workplace learning in clerkships through formal or informal workplace-based peer groups. In these groups, peers provide accessible, real-time, and relevant resources to help each other navigate transitions, clarify roles and tasks, manage interpersonal challenges, and decrease isolation. Medical schools can support effective workplace learning for medical students by incorporating continuity with peers in the main clinical clerkship year.

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