Preparedness for practice: the perceptions of graduates of a regional clinical school

Jenny Barr, Kathryn J Ogden, Kim Rooney and Iain Robertson
Med J Aust 2017; 206 (10): 447-452. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00845


Objective: To assess graduates’ self-reported preparedness with reference to a range of clinical practice capabilities, including those related to patient-centred care.

Design: A retrospective survey of self-reported preparedness for practice, based on a survey developed by the Peninsula Medical School (United Kingdom) and adapted to account for Australian circumstances and to provide more information about patient-centred care-related capabilities.

Setting and participants: Launceston Clinical School, a regional clinical school for undergraduate medical students. Medical students who had graduated during 2005–2014 and were contactable by email were invited to participate in the study.

Main outcome measures: Graduates’ self-reported preparedness for practice in 44 practice areas, measured on a 5-point Likert scale.

Results: Responses from 135 graduates (50% of invited graduates, 38% of the eligible graduate population) were received. Most graduates felt prepared in 41 of the 44 practice areas; 80% felt at least well prepared in 17 areas. After clustering the 44 areas into six thematic groups, no differences were found between men and women who had graduated in the past 4 years. As male graduates become more experienced (5–10 years after graduation), retrospective perceptions of preparedness in some areas differed from those of more recent graduates; this was not found for female graduates.

Conclusion: The survey identified strengths and weaknesses in the preparation of doctors for practice. It could be more broadly applied in Australia to obtain longitudinal data for assessing the quality of learning for curriculum planning purposes, and for aligning graduates’ needs and expectations with those of the medical training and health care employment sectors.

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  • Jenny Barr
  • Kathryn J Ogden
  • Kim Rooney
  • Iain Robertson

  • University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS



We acknowledge the contributions of Michelle Horder, research assistant for data collection, and Jessica Woodroffe, research fellow and contributor to methodological discussions.

Competing interests:

Kim Rooney is an Australian Medical Council Director, and Director of the Launceston Clinical School at the University of Tasmania.


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