Does first aid have a place in the medical curriculum? A survey of medical students

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Introduction: When a medical emergency occurs in the prehospital environment, there is an expectation from the general public for medical students to offer assistance with a similar level of competence as qualified doctors. However, the question is raised; do medical students have sufficient training in first aid skills to fulfil the role expected of them?

Prior to the publication of the latest version of Tomorrow’s Doctors by the UK General Medical Council, a student selected component (SSC) in first aid was delivered at the medical school in Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), Northern Ireland. The overwhelming popularity of this SSC prompted a desire to investigate and understand students’ experiences of first aid.

Aim: To identify first and second year medical students’ knowledge of, and attitudes towards, first aid and their expectations of the medical curriculum.

Methods: A questionnaire was delivered using TurningPoint Audience Response System® during the second semester of the 2008 - 2009 academic year to all first and second year medical students at QUB.

Results: Less than half of the students felt that they had a good level of first aid knowledge, a third would feel confident helping in an emergency and only 10% would be confident leading an emergency situation. The vast majority of students believed first aid is beneficial, that the general public expect medical students to have the knowledge to handle an emergency situation, and that a full first aid course should be included in the core medical curriculum at an early stage. They did not believe it should be a pre-requisite for medical school.

Conclusion: Only a small proportion believed their first aid knowledge adequate. An overwhelming proportion believed that first aid training is beneficial and that the public expect competency in managing emergencies. This study clearly demonstrates students’ need and desire for first aid training in the core medical curriculum at an early stage and to the highest training level possible.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Skills
VolumeIn press
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2013


  • First aid


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