Evaluation of a Final Year Work-shadowing Attachment

Peter Kavanagh, Mairead Boohan, Maurice Savage, David McCluskey, Pascal McKeown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The transition from medical student to junior doctor is well recognised to be a difficult and stressful period. To ease this transition, most UK universities have a work-shadowing period (WSP), during which students can learn practical skills needed for forthcoming employment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the WSP at Queen's University Belfast, and gain the views of both students and Foundation Programme Supervisors and Directors (FPSDs). The study utilised both qualitative (focus groups) and quantitative (questionnaires) approaches. The FPSDs completed a specific questionnaire designed for this study, while the students completed the university's internal quality assurance questionnaire. Twenty-eight of the 37 (76%) FPSDs and 106 / 196 (54%) students completed the questionnaires. Focus groups were conducted with up to 10 students in each group in both a regional centre and a district general hospital at the start and the end of the WSP as well as 8 weeks into working life. The transcripts of the focus groups were analysed and themes identified. A number of deficiencies with the current WSP were identified, including concerns about the use of log books, the timing of the attachment and relatively low levels of supervision provided by senior hospital staff members. As a result, students felt unprepared for commencing work, with particular mention given to medical emergencies, prescribing, and the emotional aspects of the job. A number of recommendations are made, including the need for more senior input to ensure better student attendance, participation and clinical interaction. Furthermore, students should be offered additional supervised responsibility for delivery of patient care and more experiential learning with respect to drug prescribing and administration. The study also suggests that more needs to be done to help ease the emotional and psychological stresses of the early FY1 period. These issues have been resolved to a large extent with the introduction of the new final year Student Assistantship module in the academic year 2010-2011.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-88
Number of pages6
JournalThe Ulster Medical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Clerkship
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Northern Ireland
  • Program Evaluation
  • Students, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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