Adoption and evaluation of a completely digital general practice clerkship ā€“ cross-sectional survey and cohort comparison among German medical students

Marina Fehl, Vera Gehres, Anne-Kathrin Geier, Thomas Mundt, Kay Klinge, Markus Bleckwenn, Tobias Deutsch

Keywords: general practice, clerkship, online teaching, undergraduate medical education

During the COVID 19 pandemic the university of Leipzig completely switched to online teaching. Thus, we developed a practice-oriented digital equivalent of a mandatory two-week general practice (GP) clerkship. The digital clerkship mainly contained clinical cases, visual diagnoses, informational and examination videos, as well as regular possibilities for exchange (e.g. video chat) with associated GP teachers in their practices, faculty members and fellow students.

Research questions:
How did the participants accept, use and evaluate the new format and its single components regarding working enjoyment, learning gain, practical relevance and insights into general practice? How do evaluations differ from those of two previous semesters?

Cross-sectional survey among 4th year (of six) medical students at Leipzig medical faculty completing their digital mandatory GP clerkship between April and June 2020. Additional cohort comparison with evaluations of two previous semesters.

Out of 192 students who completed the digital clerkship 99 participated in the study (51.6%). For the cohort comparison evaluations from 277 students of the two previous semesters (conventional clerkship) were available. The majority of the participants reported to have enjoyed the online-based clerkship (88%), to have learned a lot (90%), to have gained insights into general practice (77%), and perceived high practical relevance (91%). Two thirds stated that the new formats should complement also future clerkships. Clinical cases, visual diagnoses, examination videos and communication with GP teachers were rated best regarding working enjoyment, learning gain, practical relevance and insights into a GPā€™s work. Cohort comparison revealed partially better evaluations regarding knowledge transfer for the digital clerkship while imparting of skills and attitudes was evaluated worse.

Our digital teaching formats were well accepted by the students. Especially learning from selected clinical cases, visual diagnoses, video tutorials, and explicit slots for exchange with GP teachers and faculty members have high potential to complement future conventional clerkships usefully.

Points for discussion:
Did you gain experience with similar digital teaching formats in general practice during the pandemic?

Do you think digital teaching formats have the potential to usefully complement GP clerkships?

Which digital formats do you perceive to have rather great or rather low potential?