Objective: To determine whether there is a significant difference between educational opportunities for fourth-year medical students rotating at a university hospital (UH) compared with several community hospitals (CHs) during a mandatory emergency medicine (EM) clerkship.
Methods: A self-reported clinical tool was completed in real time by each student rotating for 2 weeks at the UH and 2 weeks at 1 of 4 CHs (3 affiliated and 1 unaffiliated). Students are required to document the number of patients seen and the number of procedures performed on each of 20 six-hour shifts. They rated the EM attending clinical teaching by site using a 5-point scale at the end of the clerkship.
Results: Most (95%) of the 87 students in the 7 clerkship blocks of the 1996–97 academic year rotated at the UH and a CH. Most (71%) students rated both the UH and the CH for the quality of teaching by attendings. There was a significant difference in the mean number of patients evaluated/shift (2.2 ± 0.10 vs 2.8 ± 0.10, UH vs CH; p < 0.001) and the mean number of procedures performed/shift (0.36 ± 0.04 vs 0.56 ± 0.05, UH vs CH; p < 0.001). Attending clinical teaching scores were significantly higher (p = 0.03) at the CHs.
Conclusions: The educational opportunities for students in an EM clerkship to evaluate patients and perform procedures were significantly greater at the community hospitals. Inclusion of community hospital settings in a medical student EM clerkship may optimize the clinical experience.