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J R Soc Med. 2001 December; 94(12): 656.
PMCID: PMC1282317

Students sitting finals: ready to be house officers?

Mr Goodfellow and Dr Claydon attribute the lack of basic clinical skills in final year Sheffield students to a traditional ‘firm’ setting in which no time was allocated to acquiring these skills. There may, however, be another factor. In 1991, Glasgow University tried to address the issue of deficient clinical skills by altering its curriculum from bedside teaching and formal lectures to a ‘firm’ system resembling that in Sheffield. The class of 1991 had been exposed only to the old system whilst the 1993 graduates had been taught exclusively in the ‘firm’ setting. We surveyed the two Glasgow cohorts anonymously when they attended their preregistration introductory lecture. The questionnaire was similar to that of Goodfellow and Claydon with the omission of suturing and nasogastric tube insertion. There were no significant differences between the two year-groups. In Table 1 we present these results alongside those reported from Sheffield, and it seems that Sheffield students are much less experienced in two skills—phlebotomy and electrocardiography. We suggest that these differences may reflect a change in the ensuing decade whereby house officers have been relieved of some of these duties (for example, by cross-skilled nurses) and opportunities for students have diminished.

Table 1
Comparison between Sheffield and Glasgow final year medical students

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