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OBJECTIVE: To find out the viewpoint and perception of undergraduate medical students of Sulaiman AlRajhi Medical School (SAMS), Saudi Arabia regarding introduction of clinical training component in the early medical years (years 1, 2 and 3) on students' learning of clinical skills (CS) in a new problem-based learning (PBL) medical curriculum.
METHODS: The study was conducted at SAMS, Saudi Arabia between December 2017 and October 2018. After Informed and written consent, students from 3rd, 4th, and 5th year were divided in to three respective Focus groups (n=8-10/group). A questionnaire was developed to conduct interview with the focus groups that was conducted by two faculty members of SAMS who were not involved in CS training.
RESULTS: More than 90% students agreed or strongly agreed that it was good to introduce CS in the early years of the curriculum. They reacted that the course enhanced their learning interest and made them feel like doctors. Non-availability of expert supervisors, lack of standardization and less number of sessions were the main limitations in early introduction of skills in the medial curriculum. Students made constructive suggestions on how the course could be improved during the interactive focus group interviews to minimize the negative effects.
CONCLUSION: Undergraduate medical students perceive that the introduction of CS in early years is useful and facilitates bedside teaching of important CS during clinical years in PBL curriculum. Standardization of curriculum, availability of simulated patients and CS instructor, and preparation of students before coming to sessions remain the major limitations.
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