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Background: Despite recognition of the importance of primary health care, the opportunities for medical students to participate in family medicine clerkships (FMCs) are still inadequate around the world. In order for FMCs to be accepted in the undergraduate curriculum, it is necessary to clarify whether FMCs complement clerkships at teaching hospitals.
Methods: Throughout the academic year 2018–2019, a total of 125 fifth-year students in Fukushima Medical University participated in an FMC. The students evaluated themselves at the beginning and end of their FMC whilst the family doctors evaluated students at the end of the FMC. The evaluations were a 5-point scale on 31 items in the following seven areas; objectives in general practice, practical skills and patient care, communication skills, patient-physician relationship, practice of team-based health care, medical practice in society and medical knowledge and problem-solving ability. A multiple regression analysis was conducted to assess whether self-evaluation was increased by clerkships at teaching hospitals where students rotated before the start of FMC. A Wilcoxon signed-rank sum test was used to assess self-evaluation changes before and after the FMC.
Results: All 125 students completed the study. Pre-FMC self-evaluation scores for 19 items tended to be higher depending on when the FMC was conducted; the later the semester, the higher the score (e.g. diagnostic reasoning: first semester, 2.23; second semester, 2.48 [p = 0.11]; third semester, 2.61 [p = 0.02]). However, this tendency was not observed in the remaining 12 items: psychological and social background, home medical care, interprofessional work, healthcare system, team-based health care, participate as a member of the team, role of the physician in team collaboration, current medical situation in the community, community-based integrated care system, necessity of primary care, discover necessary tasks, and rank the tasks. In post-FMC evaluation, six of the 12 items were higher than four point in both the self-evaluations and family doctor evaluations. A significant increase was observed between the pre-and post-FMC self-evaluation scores in all 31 items (e.g. diagnostic reasoning: pre 2.2 and post 3.9 [p <0.0001]).
Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest that FMCs complement clerkships at teaching hospitals.