Background Medical educational methods have changed greatly over the last 20 years. Attempts have been made to move towards adopting more evidence-based practices. The challenges associated with recruiting suitable students and guaranteeing equity across the board, and ensuring validity and reliability of the trials, remain numerous. Medical schools may be reluctant to allow students to participate in medical education trials for fear of burdening them. This study aimed to explore the reasons why medical students partake in studies in order to inform future practice.
Methodology Medical students at Newcastle Medical School were invited to participate in a study looking at video-enhanced feedback on learning cannulation, catheterisation and suturing. Participants completed a questionnaire with nine questions based on a visual analogue scale on reasons for participating. Free text reasons were also solicited and thematically analysed.
Results A total of 72 responses (100%) were received. Thematic analysis revealed students (a) enjoyed practical skills, (b) felt participation would help with exams and long term career aspirations and (c) felt participation was an opportunity to learn a new skill. Pre-clinical students were more likely to attend to learn new skills, while clinical students wanted to improve weak areas or consolidate skills previously learnt (all P < 0.0001, unpaired t-test).
Conclusions and recommendations Medical students participate in educational trials for varying reasons, the driving forces of which are a genuine interest in practical procedures as well as the desire to do well in upcoming exams. Medical schools worry about overusing students in educational trials; students, however, have a genuine interest in participation and are able to be strategic. Medical students are a valuable resource in curriculum design and development and should not be overlooked when designing medical educational trials nor when considering inviting them to participate in trials aiming to evidence best practice in medical education.
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