(L)earning: exploring the value of paid roles for medical students

Jonathan P. Callaghan, Katrina Z. Freimane, Grainne P. Kearney, Nigel D. Hart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


The Medical Student Technician (MST) role is a paid position established in Northern Ireland in 2020. The Experience-Based Learning (ExBL) model is a contemporary medical education pedagogy advocating supported participation to develop capabilities important for doctors-to-be. In this study, we used the ExBL model to explore the experiences of MSTs and how the role contributed to students' professional development and preparedness for practice.

A convenience sampling strategy was used to recruit a total of 17 MSTs in three focus groups. Semi-structured interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the ExBL model as a framework. Transcripts were independently analysed and coded by two investigators and discrepancies resolved with the remaining investigators.

The MST experiences reflected the various components of the ExBL model. Students valued earning a salary; however, what students earned transcended the financial reward alone. This professional role enabled students to meaningfully contribute to patient care and have authentic interactions with patients and staff. This fostered a sense of feeling valued and increased self-efficacy amongst MSTs, helping them acquire various practical, intellectual and affective capabilities and subsequently demonstrate an increased confidence in their identities as future doctors.

Paid clinical roles for medical students could present useful adjuncts to traditional clinical placements, benefiting both students and potentially healthcare systems. The practice-based learning experiences described appear to be underpinned by a novel social context where students can add value, be and feel valued and gain valuable capabilities that better prepare them for starting work as a doctor.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13563
Number of pages9
JournalThe Clinical Teacher
Issue number2
Early online date19 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • General Medicine
  • Review and Exam Preparation


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