Qualitative Exploration of Medical Student Experiences during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Implications for Medical Education
Background During the Covid-19 pandemic medical students were offered paid roles as medical student healthcare assistants. Anecdotal reports suggested that students found this experience rich for learning. Previous studies have explored alternative models of student service, however this defined medical student support role is novel.Methods Individual semi-structured interviews were recorded with 20 medical students at a UK medical school exploring their experiences of placement learning and
... eriences of working as healthcare assistants. Responses were analysed qualitatively using a framework approach. The framework was developed into a model describing key findings and their relationships.Results Interviews yielded data that broadly covered aspects of 1. Medical students' experiences of clinical placement learning 2. Medical students' experiences of working as medical student healthcare assistants 3. Learning resulting from working as a healthcare assistant 4. Hierarchies and professional barriers in the clinical environment 5. Influences on professional identity. Participants described barriers and facilitators of clinical learning and how assuming a healthcare assistant role impacted on learning and socialisation within the multidisciplinary team. Students became increasingly socialised within the healthcare team, contributing directly to patient care; the resulting social capital opened new opportunities for learning, team working and enhanced students' interprofessional identity. Students described the impact of these experiences on their aspirations for their future practice.Conclusion Changes to work patterns in healthcare and delivery models of medical education have eroded opportunities for students to contribute to healthcare delivery and be embedded within a team. This is impacting negatively on student learning and socialisation and we suggest that medical curricula have much to learn from nursing and allied health professional training. Longitudinal embedment with a multidisciplinary team, where students have a defined role and work directly with patients may not only add value to clinical service, but also overcome current barriers to effective placement learning and interprofessional identity formation for medical students.