Paediatric case mix in a rural clinical school is relevant to future practice

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Exposure to a representative case mix is essential for clinical learning, with logbooks established as a way of demonstrating patient contacts. Few studies have reported the paediatric case mix available to geographically distributed students within the same medical school. Given international interest in expanding medical teaching locations to rural contexts, equitable case exposure in rural relative to urban settings is topical. The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia locates students up to 3500 km from the urban university for an academic year. There is particular need to examine paediatric case mix as a study reported Australian graduates felt unprepared for paediatric rotations. We asked: Does a rural clinical school provide a paediatric case mix relevant to future practice? How does the paediatric case mix as logged by rural students compare with that by urban students? Methods: The 3745 logs of 76 urban and 76 rural consenting medical students were categorised by presenting symptoms and compared to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) database Major Diagnostic Categories (MDCs). Results: Rural and urban students logged core paediatric cases, in similar order, despite the striking difference in geographic locations. The pattern of overall presenting problems closely corresponded to Australian paediatric hospital admissions. Rural students logged 91% of cases in secondary healthcare settings; urban students logged 90% of cases in tertiary settings. The top four presenting problems were ENT/respiratory, gastrointestinal/urogenital, neurodevelopmental and musculoskeletal; these made up 60% of all cases. Rural and urban students logged similar proportions of infants, children and adolescents, with a variety of case morbidity. Conclusions: Rural clinical school students logged a mix of core paediatric cases relevant to illnesses of Australian children admitted to public hospitals, with similar order and pattern by age group to urban students, despite major differences in clinical settings. Logged cases met the curriculum learning outcomes of graduates. Minor variations were readily addressed via recommendations about logging. This paper provides evidence of the legitimacy of student logs as useful tools in affirming appropriate paediatric case mix. It validates the rural clinical school context as appropriate for medical students to prepare for future clinical paediatric practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number237
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2017


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