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Keywords:

  • clinical skills;
  • Internet;
  • qualitative research;
  • focus groups;
  • dental education;
  • medical education

Abstract

Objective

Acquiring competency in performing clinical procedures is central to professional education of healthcare providers. Internet visual resources (IVR), defined as visual materials openly accessible on public websites, provides a new channel to learn clinical procedures. This qualitative study aimed to profile the experience and opinions of undergraduate students (in dentistry, medicine and nursing) in learning clinical procedures through IVR.

Methods

From clinical degree programmes (Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, and Bachelor of Nursing) of University of Hong Kong, 31 students were recruited to join six focus group discussions, which were transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis using inductive method, in which themes emerge from data.

Findings

Students actively looked for IVRs through various means and used them for pre-clinical preparation, post-clinical revision, learning simple and advanced procedures, exploring alternative and updated techniques, and benchmarking against international peers. IVRs were valued for their visual stimulation, inclusion of a wide variety of real-life cases, convenience in access, user-friendliness and time-saving features. Students tended to share and discuss IVRs with their peers rather than with tutors, even when contents deviated from school teaching or faculty's e-learning materials. When doubts persisted, they chose to follow faculty guidelines for examination purpose. Students were frustrated sometimes by difficulties in judging the scientific quality, lack of immediate interactive discussions and loosely structured presentations in some IVRs. Teachers' attitudes towards IVR appeared to vary greatly.

Conclusion

Despite the wide spectrum of experience and opinions, IVR was generally viewed by undergraduates from across clinical faculties as enhancing their clinical confidence and self-perceived competency, enriching their learning experience and serving as an important supplement to formal learning in the planned curriculum.