Background In a survey taken place in 2009 among medical students in which 256 students from 11 medical schools in the UK have responded, rheumatology was among the bottom 3 specialities of choice from a total of 21 to be considered for foundation year 1 (FY1) and foundation year 2 (FY2) training.
Objectives Aiming to assess the rationale behind 4th, 5th and 6th (when applicable) year medical students’ views on having Rheumatology as part of their FY1 and FY2 rotation, we analysed the open responses of those provided one and grouped them in subcategories according to their content. The following subcategories have been developed: 1) Fascinating area, 2) overlap with other specialities/limited exposure/lack of ward patients 3) not sure/don’t know/don’t mind 4)small speciality/very specialised/ not interested 5) other/irrelevant.
Results A total of 49 open responses obtained from the total of 254 medical students (19.2%). From those 2 students of 49 regarded Rheumatology a fascinating area (4%); 16 students (32.6%) were unclear because they either considered it overlapping with other specialities (7 of 16; 43.7%); or they feel they have been offered limited exposure (4 of 16; 5%); or due to the lack of dedicated ward beds (5 of 16; 31.2%). Seven (7) of 49 students (14.2%) had no preference or did not thought about it, while 8 of 49 (16.3%) considered it “very specialised” “small” “niche” speciality of no interest. Another 7 students (14.2%) provided comments irrelevant to the question on the rationale behind it by either commenting on the structure of the survey, the bias related to exposure they had experienced, or offering suggestions ie for non clinical specialities.
Looking at those (24 of 256; 9.37%) who had chosen Rheumatology as part of FY1/FY2 rotation, they were 7 males and 17 females (M:F=1:2.4)Most were at the 22-28 age range (23 of 24; 95.8%) (1 was at the 36-42 age gange), 6 were attending the 4th year (25%), 15 were attending the 5th year (62.5%) and 3 the 6th year (12.5%), 21 were undergraduates (87.5) and 3 (12.5%) were under the graduate entry program (GEP).
Ten of those 24 (41.6%) who had chosen to have Rheumatology as part of their FY training provide in the open responses the rationale behind their choice: 5 students (50%) wanted Rheumatology because they had considered it as needed in their career choice (3 of those aiming for general practice and 2 for orthopaedics), 3 students wanted Rheumatology to be included so to enable exposure in order to help them with career choice and 2/10 wanted Rheumatology for career choice.
Conclusions Medical school students in the UK consider Rheumatology a “small niche” speciality having considerable overlap with other specialities, particularly medicine and Orthopaedics. They therefore consider that Rheumatology does not provide knowledge needed for foundation years training. The lack of in-patients’ dedicated beds (which is current practise in the UK) contributes to it. Medical students call “Rheumaholidays” the time spent in Rheumatology in their medical school years of training.
Thapper M. Roussou E. Medical students’ attitude towards rheumatology training at foundation year 1 and foundation year 2 level: Results from a national UK survey. Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2010;69 (suppl.3):91.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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