Experiences of graduating students from a medical programme five years after curricular transformation: A descriptive study

  • P McInerney
  • LP Green-Thompson
  • DM Manning


Background. The University of the Witwatersrand introduced a new curriculum in 2003 where students could gain admission to the medical
programme at two levels: directly as school leavers or following a degree as graduate entrants at the third year of study. From this point both groups of students continue in a combined class in a single curriculum.
Objective. To determine the experiences of the fifth cohort of graduating students from a medical programme following curricular transformation.
Method. A quantitative descriptive study was undertaken using a semi-structured questionnaire with both open- and closed-ended questions. There were 201 students in the graduating class, all of whom were invited to complete the questionnaire.
Results. A 74% response rate was obtained, of which 66% were school leaver entrants and 34% were graduates. Among the best experiences there were 59 comments relating directly to the programme. The worst experiences included perceptions of the lack of standardisation in clinical exams and feelings of inadequacy in relation to pharmacology and microbiology. Just under three-quarters of the participants felt ‘adequately prepared’ for the clinical years; 82% of the participants stated that they would make changes to the programme.
Conclusion. The placement of this evaluation at the conclusion of formal assessments may have contributed to the depth of responses and openness of respondents in the completion of the questionnaire. We highly recommend the value of obtaining data on students’ experiences and opinions of a programme at the point of exit from the programme.

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