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The fourth year of podiatric medical school is an important period in the education of the podiatric medical student, a period that consists largely of month-long clerkships. Nonetheless, there has been limited formal study of the quality of learning experiences during this period. Furthermore, there is limited knowledge of how podiatric medical students evaluate residency programs during clerkships.
An online survey was developed and distributed electronically to fourth-year podiatric medical school students. The focus of the survey was the quality of learning experiences during externships, and decision making in ranking residency programs.
The most valuable learning experiences during clerkships were interactions with attending physicians, interactions with residents, and general feedback in surgery. Students self-identified that they most improved in the following areas during clerkships: forefoot surgery, clinical podiatry skills, and rearfoot surgery. The areas in which students improved the least were research, pediatrics, and practice management. The three most important factors students considered as they created their rank list were hands-on resident participation in surgical training, the attitude and personality of the residents, and the attitude and personality of the attending physicians. A range of surgical interest was identified among students, and students lacking in surgical interest self-reported less improvement in various surgical topics.
The perspectives of fourth-year podiatric medical students are currently an underused resource. Improved understanding can help residency programs improve the quality of associated learning experiences and can make their programs more appealing to potential residency candidates.