Feedback learning opportunities from medical student logs of paediatric patients

Helen M. Wright, Moira A.L. Maley, Denese E. Playford, Pam Nicol, Sharon F. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Feedback can alter medical student logging practices, although most learners feel feedback is inadequate. A varied case mix in rural and urban contexts offers diverse clinical encounters. Logs are an indicator of these clinical experiences, and contain opportunities for feedback, which can greatly influence learning: we labelled these 'feedback learning opportunities' (FLOs). We asked: How often do FLOs occur? What are the case complexities of rural compared to urban paediatric logs? Do more complex cases result in more FLOs? Methods: In Western Australia, 25% of medical students are dispersed in a Rural Clinical School (RCSWA) up to 2175 miles (3500 km) from the city. Urban students logged 20 written cases; rural students logged a minimum of 25 paediatric cases electronically. These were reviewed to identify FLOs, using a coding convention. FLO categories provided a structure for feedback: medical, professionalism, insufficient, clinical reasoning, student wellbeing, quality and safety, and sociocultural. Each log was assigned an overall primary, secondary or tertiary case complexity. Results: There were 76 consenting students in each urban and rural group, providing 3034 logs for analysis after exclusions. FLOs occurred in more than half the logs, with significantly more rural (OR 1.35 95% CI 1.17, 1.56; p < 0.0001). Major FLOs occurred in over a third of logs, but with no significant difference between rural and urban (OR 1.10 95% CI 0.94, 1.28; p = 0.24). Medical FLOs were the most common, accounting for 64.0% of rural and 75.2% of urban FLOs (OR 1.71 95% CI 1.37, 2.12; p < 0.0001). Students logged cases with a variety of complexities. Most cases logged by urban students in a tertiary healthcare setting were of primary and secondary complexity. Major medical FLOs increased with increasing patient complexity, occurring in 32.1% of tertiary complexity cases logged by urban students (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Case logs are a valuable resource for medical educators to enhance students' learning by providing meaningful feedback. FLOs occurred often, particularly in paediatric cases with multiple medical problems. This study strengthens recommendations for regular review and timely feedback on student logs. We recommend the FLOs categories as a framework for medical educators to identify FLOs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2019


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