Observational practice for first year medical students - experiences and challenges

Aurimas Rapalavičius, Leonas Valius, Kristina Ziutelienė, Greta Aladaitienė

Keywords: Observational practice, clinical practice, medical students, first year


Before starting this observational practice, we often heard from our first and second year medical students that they lack opportunities to observe and be in contact with real medical settings.
So in 2019 we changed the approach to medical education in our University and included a 3 week observational practice module in primary health care centers as part of the curriculum for our first year medical students - Lithuanian and foreign together.


Our method of approach was to group Lithuanian and foreign students together and send them to practice places in primary health care providing centers in Kaunas city where they were able to observe real time (not simulated) medical work.
Practice days were divided into 3 main groups : work in registry and with administrative staff; work with nurses and middle personnel; and work with family doctors.
Before starting the practice they were given lectures about general work ethics, confidentiality, communication between medical staff and introduced to roles and responsibilities that each member of primary health care has and what can students expect when they work with them.


At first we faced many challenges with distribution of students, timetables and finding suitable personnel that wants to work with students. First year of this new module was also when Covid-19 pandemic started.
Nowadays and 4 years into it, our students are very excited about this observational practice module because they get to see and be in touch with real medical settings. We have also formed close relationship with our practice centers coordinators and found outstanding medical personnel.


Our first year medical students get to experience real life medical settings, observe processes in primary health care, learn how medical system functions and we also have the opportunity to show them the importance of team work in medical environment.

Points for discussion:

Challenges of grouping Lithuanian and foreign students together.

Are first year medical students ready for practice in real life medical settings?

Empowering medical staff for education outside University clinics.


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