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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Graduates from a traditional medical curriculum evaluate the effectiveness of their medical curriculum through interviews

Simon Watmough*, Helen O'Sullivan and David Taylor

Author Affiliations

Centre for Excellence in Developing Professionalism, School of Medical Education University of Liverpool, Cedar House, Ashton Street, Liverpool, L69 3GE. UK

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BMC Medical Education 2009, 9:64  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-64

Published: 26 October 2009

Abstract

Background

In 1996 The University of Liverpool reformed its medical course from a traditional lecture-based course to an integrated PBL curriculum. A project has been underway since 2000 to evaluate this change. Part of this project has involved gathering retrospective views on the relevance of both types of undergraduate education according to graduates. This paper focuses on the views of traditional Liverpool graduates approximately 6 years after graduation.

Methods

From February 2006 to June 2006 interviews took place with 46 graduates from the last 2 cohorts to graduate from the traditional Liverpool curriculum.

Results

The graduates were generally happy with their undergraduate education although they did feel there were some flaws in their curriculum. They felt they had picked up good history and examination skills and were content with their exposure to different specialties on clinical attachments. They were also pleased with their basic science teaching as preparation for postgraduate exams, however many complained about the overload and irrelevance of many lectures in the early years of their course, particular in biochemistry. There were many different views about how they integrated this science teaching into understanding disease processes and many didn't feel it was made relevant to them at the time they learned it. Retrospectively, they felt that they hadn't been clinically well prepared for the role of working as junior doctor, particularly the practical aspects of the job nor had enough exposure to research skills. Although there was little communication skills training in their course they didn't feel they would have benefited from this training as they managed to pick up had the required skills on clinical attachments.

Conclusion

These interviews offer a historical snapshot of the views of graduates from a traditional course before many courses were reformed. There was some conflict in the interviews about the doctors enjoying their undergraduate education but then saying that they didn't feel they received good preparation for working as a junior doctor. Although the graduates were happy with their undergraduate education these interviews do highlight some of the reasons why the traditional curriculum was reformed at Liverpool.