Towards tailored teaching: using participatory action research to enhance the learning experience of Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship students in a South African rural district hospital
von Pressentin, Klaus B.
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Background: The introduction of Stellenbosch University’s Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) model as part of the undergraduate medical curriculum offers a unique and exciting training model to develop generalist doctors for the changing South African health landscape. At one of these LIC sites, the need for an improvement of the local learning experience became evident. This paper explores how to identify and implement a tailored teaching and learning intervention to improve workplace-based learning for LIC students. Methods: A participatory action research approach was used in a co-operative inquiry group (ten participants), consisting of the students, clinician educators and researchers, who met over a period of 5 months. Through a cyclical process of action and reflection this group identified a teaching intervention. Results: The results demonstrate the gaps and challenges identified when implementing a LIC model of medical education. A structured learning programme for the final 6 weeks of the students’ placement at the district hospital was designed by the co-operative inquiry group as an agreed intervention. The post-intervention group reflection highlighted a need to create a structured programme in the spirit of local collaboration and learning across disciplines. The results also enhance our understanding of both students and clinician educators’ perceptions of this new model of workplace-based training. Conclusions: This paper provides practical strategies to enhance teaching and learning in a new educational context. These strategies illuminate three paradigm shifts: (1) from the traditional medical education approach towards a transformative learning approach advocated for the 21st century health professional; (2) from the teaching hospital context to the district hospital context; and (3) from block-based teaching towards a longitudinal integrated learning model. A programme based on balancing structured and tailored learning activities is recommended in order to address the local learning needs of students in the LIC model. We recommend that action learning sets should be developed at these LIC sites, where the relevant aspects of work-place based learning are negotiated.