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Toward an Understanding of the Student Experience During the Ob-Gyn Clerkship

Background: Medical school graduates rank the Obstetrics and Gynecology (Ob-Gyn) clerkship as one of the lowest clerkships in medical school. Studies further exploring such experiences and attitudes are limited.


Methods: Third year medical students in their Ob-Gyn clerkship at a Harvard-affiliated institution were invited to participate in a focus group and complete a survey about their clerkship experiences. Discussion topics included the transition from pre-clinical to clinical medicine, general Ob-Gyn clerkship experiences, and relationships with patients, faculty, and house staff. Focus groups were conducted by individuals unaffiliated with the clerkship. Anonymized transcripts were coded by consensus by four study members to identify common themes.


Results: All students (n=13) from two consecutive Ob-Gyn clerkship blocks were invited to participate. Eleven (84.6%) participated in a total of two focus groups and eight (69.2%) completed the survey. Only 44% of survey respondents indicated that they were looking forward to the clerkship before it began. Two-thirds of students reported that the clerkship exceeded their expectations, reporting positive experiences particularly with house staff and patients. Major focus group themes included the need to advocate for educational opportunities, the desire for coaching in interactions with nurses and residents, and a lack of continuity or meaningful relationships with patients.


Discussions: Clerkship improvement projects that encourage self-advocacy, provide coaching in interpersonal and interdisciplinary relationships, and promote continuity of care are likely to positively impact student experiences in the Ob-Gyn clerkship.


Keywords: Curriculum Development/Evaluation, Personal Characteristics/Attitudes, Student Affairs

Topics: CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting, 2017, Clerkship Director, Clerkship Coordinator, Professionalism, Interpersonal & Communication Skills, UME,

General Information

Clerkship Director,Clerkship Coordinator,
Professionalism,Interpersonal & Communication Skills,
Clinical Focus

Author Information

Taylor Freret, MEd; Amy Sullivan, EdD; Brett Armstrong, MPH; Katharyn Atkins, MD

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