Understanding Preclerkship Medical Students’ Poor Performance in Prescription Writing

Henry James, Khalid A. J. Al Khaja, Yasin I. Tayem, Sindhan Veeramuthu, Reginald P. Sequeira

Abstract


Objectives: This study aimed to explore reasons for poor performance in prescription writing stations of the objective structured practical examination (OSPE) and absenteeism in prescription writing sessions among preclerkship medical students at the Arabian Gulf University (AGU) in Manama, Bahrain. Methods: This descriptive study was carried out between September 2014 and June 2015 among 157 preclerkship medical students at AGU. Data were collected using focus group discussions and a questionnaire with closed- and open-ended items. Results: All 157 students participated in the study (response rate: 100.0%). The most frequently cited reasons for poor performance in OSPE stations were an inability to select the correct drugs (79.6%), treatment duration (69.4%), drug quantity (69.4%) and drug formulation (68.2%). Additionally, students reported inadequate time for completing the stations (68.8%). During focus group discussions, students reported other reasons for poor performance, including examination stress and the difficulty of the stations. Absenteeism was attributed to the length of each session (55.4%), lack of interest (50.3%), reliance on peers for information (48.4%) and optional attendance policies (47.1%). Repetitive material, large group sessions, unmet student expectations and the proximity of the sessions to summative examinations were also indicated to contribute to absenteeism according to open-ended responses or focus group discussions. Conclusion:This study suggests that AGU medical students perform poorly in prescription writing OSPE stations because of inadequate clinical pharmacology knowledge. Participation in prescription writing sessions needs to be enhanced by addressing the concerns identified in this study. Strategies to improve attendance and performance should take into account the learner-teacher relationship.



Keywords


Medical Students; Medical Education; Drug Prescriptions; Inappropriate Prescribing; Absenteeism; Formularies; Bahrain.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18295/squmj.2016.16.02.011

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

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