Medical students’ experience and perceptions of their final rotation in psychiatry

Renata du Preez, Anne-Marie Bergh, Jackie Grimbeek, Mike van der Linde


Background. Evaluation of specific courses, rotations or attachments in medical education is common practice. 

Objective. To evaluate medical students’ perceptions of their final psychiatry rotation of 7 weeks. 

Methods. A questionnaire was developed for medical students to give feedback on their psychiatry rotation at Weskoppies Hospital in Tshwane, South Africa. Four scores were developed: (i) a clinical exposure score for psychiatric conditions encountered during the rotation; (ii) an ethics exposure score comprising confidentiality and informed consent; (iii) an admissions exposure score for different admission options; and (iv) a perception score related to students’ experience of the rotation. The evaluation took place over a period of 4 years, between 2006 and 2009.

Results. Over the study period, 87% of 708 students completed the questionnaire. The higher number of female respondents (63%) was in accordance with the general student profile. The four resulting scores were: clinical exposure 67%; ethics exposure 78%; admissions exposure 86%; and perceptions 75%. The main strengths of the rotation were identified as the positive learning environment, exposure to patients, discussions and ward conferences, and approaches followed.

Conclusions. The conceptualisation of the tool to elicit specific scores was useful for presenting the findings. The student feedback provided valuable information for the psychiatry curriculum planners and teachers, and led to further adaptations to the structure of the rotations and the learning opportunities provided.


Psychiatry; Clinical rotation; Undergraduate medical education; Course evaluation

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Submitted: 30 May 2014
Published: 01 February 2015

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)