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Utility of undergraduate surgical clerkship handbooks: A single institution survey

By: Jonathan Seto & Dr. Trustin Domes

In transition to clerkship, medical students must quickly integrate themselves into a new and foreign environment. Handbooks are a resource which aid in adapting to routines, expectations, and activities of a new clinical rotation. The content of a handbook is integral to its utility and outcomes gauge its value. Therefore, the objective of this project is to determine the utility of the handbook as a tool during clerkship via a structured survey. Secondary objectives of the survey were to assess factors of collaboration which have not been represented in the literature. Methods: third and fourth year clerks that completed their surgical rotation, all of whom received the handbook as a resource voluntarily completed an online survey. Results: of the 39 medical students who responded, 61.5% were fourth year and 38.5% third year clerks. Utility of the handbook is clear in the frequency of use in the clinical setting with 100% to 88.2% of students utilizing it in the ward or operating room, respectively. Majority of students seldom used the resource for academic or exam purposes. 87.2% supported the use of a hard copy medium. From the user perspective 80-90% were more independent and confident in carrying out tasks, dictating, and writing orders. 69.2% of students shared this resource to local clerks, 34.2% to visiting-local clerks, and 13.5% to clerks across Canada; however, 0% shared internationally. 20.5-38.5% used the handbook in other major core rotations. Overall, the handbook has provided a marked increase in student independence, confidence, and sense of safety during a surgical core rotation. Many clerks reach for this resource while in family clinic, the internal medicine ward, and the emergency department – suggesting collaboration of similar resources across specialties is in demand.
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