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J R Soc Med. 2001 December; 94(12): 655.
PMCID: PMC1282314

Students sitting finals: ready to be house officers?

How reliable are questionnaires about what skills medical students learnt in Sheffield, or anywhere else? Sheffield used to have a system of social tutorial groups for students—perhaps they still do—in which a student from each year is linked with a medical school staff member for social and support activities. This might mean gathering for a meal, going out to the theatre, etc. It was an opportunity to meet students of other years, to learn what is in store, and to meet staff on a social rather than teaching footing.

On one occasion, I, a former teacher of psychiatry in Sheffield, noted that one woman, 4th or 5th year, was greatly steamed up. My psychiatric background suggested I look into what troubled her and she told me how the A&E sister had insisted on her taking blood from a patient when she had never done it before. My education background made me wonder how this could be and I asked the other students, who explained that they had all done it when they took blood from each other for biochemical and physiological investigations. I went back to her to ask how she had missed all this but her response was: ‘Yes, but they were students; this was a patient’.

Incidentally, since 1982, Sheffield had had a three-part preregistration year of four months each of medicine/ psychiatry/ surgery for a small number of students to ensure the acquisition and practice of an important skill, interviewing.

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press