Medical Education, 1999
"OBJECTIVES: Community-based medical education (CBE) has clear value. However, there are aspects of CBE where improvement is possible. First, communities do not generally receive valued outcomes in exchange for participation in the CBE process. Secondly, students are usually not trained to influence health in the community using methods that are realistic in busy clinical practice.
DESIGN: A CBE rotation was designed to address these problems. Rotation activities were structured to facilitate development of a health programme desired by the community while giving students practical skills for later use. Working with community residents and health staff, sequential groups of students carried out, in turn, problem analysis, resource identification, planning and implementation activities aimed at establishing a community tuberculosis (TB) control programme.
SETTING: The University of Natal in Durban, South Africa.
SUBJECTS: Final-year medical students.
RESULTS: At the end of the academic year, the TB control programme was approximately 60% in place, and 90% of TB patients cared for by the students were completing treatment. Overall, students rated the experience good for learning about health care in community settings and about methods for community health programme development. Student ratings were significantly higher for those groups whose activities brought them into greater contact with community residents. The 'real-time' nature of planning the sequential student groups' work created logistical problems and, as an isolated activity, the rotation had little impact on student attitudes toward community-based careers.
CONCLUSIONS: Expanding the goals for CBE is both feasible and important. Further work should focus on refining designs for this next step in CBE."