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Open Access Research article

How students perceive medical competences: a cross-cultural study between the Medical Course in Portugal and African Portuguese Speaking Countries

Joselina Barbosa1*, Milton Severo12, Mário Fresta3, Mamudo Ismail4, Maria Amélia Ferreira15 and Henrique Barros26

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, (Al. Prof. Hernâni Monteiro), Porto, (4200-319), Portugal

2 Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, (Al. Prof. Hernâni Monteiro), Porto, (4200-319), Portugal

3 Center for Advanced Studies in Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University Agostinho Neto, (Av. Hoji ya Henda), Luanda, (116), Angola

4 Faculty of Medicine, University Eduardo Mondlane, (Av. Salvador Allende), Maputo, (257), Mozambique

5 Institute of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, (Al. Prof. Hernâni Monteiro), Porto, (4200-319), Portugal

6 Institute of Public Health, University of Porto, (Rua das Taipas), Porto (4050-600), Portugal

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:24  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-24

Published: 25 May 2011

Abstract

Background

A global effort has been made in the last years to establish a set of core competences that define the essential professional competence of a physician. Regardless of the environment, culture or medical education conditions, a set of core competences is required for medical practice worldwide. Evaluation of educational program is always needed to assure the best training for medical students and ultimately best care for patients. The aim of this study was to determine in what extent medical students in Portugal and Portuguese speaking African countries, felt they have acquired the core competences to start their clinical practice. For this reason, it was created a measurement tool to evaluate self-perceived competences, in different domains, across Portuguese and Portuguese-speaking African medical schools.

Methods

The information was collected through a questionnaire that defines the knowledge, attitudes and skills that future doctors should acquire. The Cronbach's Alpha and Principal Components Analysis (PCA) were used to evaluate the reliability of the questionnaire. In order to remove possible confounding effect, individual scores were standardized by country.

Results

The order of the domain's scores was similar between countries. After standardization, Personal Attitudes and Professional Behavior showed median scores above the country global median and Knowledge alone showed median score below the country global median. In Portugal, Clinical Skills showed score below the global median. In Angola, Clinical Skills and General Skills showed a similar result. There were only significant differences between countries in Personal Attitudes (p < 0.001) and Professional Behavior (p = 0.043).

Conclusions

The reliability of the instrument in Portuguese and Portuguese-speaking African medical schools was confirmed. Students have perceived their level of competence in personal attitudes in a high level and in opposite, knowledge and clinical skills with some weaknesses.