Although the paper discusses the students placement in Old Age Psychiatry, it is relevant to all other medical and surgical specialities where busy clinicians face many challenges in providing teaching to medical students.
The scheme described in this paper to improve students placement used existing resources and encouraged the input from professionals working within the team (e.g., psychologists, nurses and support workers) to enrich the students placement.
The authors took over full responsibility for coordinating the students’ placements and liaising with the various supervising clinical teams.
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As a result, students felt that they were expected and had a clearer sense of where they should be and who would be supervising or teaching them.
Later student feedback reported that these changes had contributed directly to an improved learning experience.
Also, it included useful information about the mental state examination and the Mental Health Act, information that had been requested previously by medical students.
Sending information before the placement has been shown to be beneficial in students’ electives and this is especially important in psychiatry which can be experienced as less structured than other medical specialities and where students are required to travel to various hospitals and clinics bases.
The students are encouraged to talk to patients and carers and perform basic clinical tasks such as mental state examination and risk assessment.
Table 1 summarises the learning outcomes for students during their placement.
Background Fourth-year medical students from the University of East Anglia (UEA) spend two months rotating through various mental health services as part of their clinical placement in the Mind Module (also known as Clinical Psychiatry or Module 11).
As part of this rotation, students are placed in Old Age Psychiatry for six days over a two-week period.
Each clinician received a formal letter of thanks from the Head of Norwich Medical School, the Module Lead and the Secondary Care Lead certifying their contribution to the education of medical students and thanking them for their work.
The information pack sent to the students before the placement contained information about the hospital environment (location, map, parking, travel arrangements, key codes and useful contact numbers) and a detailed timetable (and email address) of the clinician supervising the student each day during the placement.
Students felt that clinicians were too pressured to supervise students.