What is the clinical placement experience of prevocational doctors in Victorian health services compared with the defined curriculum, and how may this have been shaped by contemporary healthcare delivery?
AuthorAhern, Susannah Fleur
AffiliationMelbourne Medical School Collected Works
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2015 Dr. Susannah Fleur Ahern
Medical training in Australia and comparable countries internationally is based on an apprenticeship model of training. However this has been challenged by contemporary healthcare practices as well as the limited training capacity of the acute care settings where medical training is largely undertaken. While this impacts all phases of medical training, it is the prevocational phase in Australia that is most vulnerable as its training outcomes are poorly defined and not routinely measured. Similarly, while a twelve‐month rotation‐based internship has existed in Australia for decades, the effectiveness of this model in providing core training and clinical competencies for prevocational doctors has not been rigorously evaluated, and is currently being questioned. This research seeks to better understand the clinical placement experience of prevocational doctors in Victorian Health Services, and to consider how this may be affected by contemporary healthcare delivery. The research has been designed as a mixed –methods study, where data obtained from a broad‐based survey of exposure to a range of clinical curriculum‐based activities of junior doctors from seven Victorian health services was explored by groups of junior doctor supervisors and managers. These research findings have concurred with limited previous literature, noting that prevocational trainees have limited exposure to a number of curriculum areas, particularly within the curriculum domains of procedures and emergency management, as well as teaching and learning activities, and other more complex patient management and interaction activities. It has identified that particular intern core terms and PGY2 clinical streams may provide better access to curriculum experiences than others, and that there may be particular curriculum strengths and weaknesses of prevocational training in metropolitan versus regional areas. It has also suggested that the current prevocational curriculum framework is variably understood by health service supervisors and managers, and that these findings have potentially significant implications for the trainees themselves, for length of training, and for the confidence and competence of the end practitioner. Essentially a key finding from this research is that acute health services are increasingly performing high‐risk activities within constrained environments, resulting in changes to healthcare teams and individual roles – and the legitimate peripheral participation of junior doctors in clinical care has decreased in proportion to the acuity and specialisation of the activity involved. While local educational initiatives to overcome this challenge are currently being variably utilised by health services, they do not ensure ongoing repeated curriculum exposure and therefore curriculum mastery. Instead, system‐wide issues require to be addressed by a system wide approach. Lave and Wanger’s Situated Learning theory (1991) provided a framework through which the research results were viewed, and provides a lens through which recommendations can be conceptualised. Essentially, this thesis recommends reform of prevocational training ‐ that redefines its role; that addresses curriculum ambiguity; that enhances junior doctor access to legitimate peripheral participation; and that re‐establishes communities of practice. These medical training reforms need to be undertaken within a clear, integrated governance model, and supported by ongoing evaluation and innovation.
Keywordsprevocational training; intership; junior doctors; situated learning; prevocational curriculum; clinical placements
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