"they cared about us students:" Learning from exemplar clinical teaching environments

Althea Gamble Blakey, Kelby Smith-Han, Lynley Anderson, Emma Collins, Elizabeth Berryman, Tim Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In order to foster positive student experiences in the clinical learning environment, we wanted to better understand which teaching practices they regard highly. Methods: In 2016, the authors undertook a paper 'exemplar' survey (ES) of all fifth year medical students at one tertiary teaching site. Students had experienced all assigned clinical rotations over a two year period. Following a 66% response rate, we identified two clear exemplar clinical areas (ECAs). Over 2016-7, six focus groups with multidisciplinary staff members from these clinical areas were held, with the aim to identify, discuss and understand their specific teaching practices in more detail. Results: The authors present descriptions of positive student experiences and related staff practices, in five themes. Themes emerged around foundational logistic and personal factors: central to student and staff data is that 'welcome' on a daily, and ongoing basis, can be foundational to learning. Central to ECA staff data are universal practices by which all staff purposefully work to develop a functional staff-student relationship and play a part in organising/teaching students. Students and ECA staff groups both understood teacher values to be central to student learning and that cultivating a student's values is one of their major educational tasks. Conclusions: The framework formed by this thematic analysis is useful, clear and transferrable to other clinical teaching contexts. It also aligns with current thinking about best supporting student learning and cultivating student values as part of developing professionalism. Instigating such practices might help to optimise clinical teaching. We also tentatively suggest that such practices might help where resources are scarce, and perhaps also help ameliorate student bullying.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


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