University-Private Hospital clinical education partnerships: opportunities, benefits and barriers for medical student clinical training in private hospitals

Sarah Mahoney, Linnea Boileau



 Introduction: Private hospitals in Australia have the potential to offer rich clinical training opportunities for medical students. This study aimed to identify benefits and barriers to private hospitals engaging with medical schools to provide clinical learning opportunities, as perceived by staff and visiting clinicians at private hospitals.

Methods: Visiting clinicians and staff at four private hospitals in Adelaide (South Australia) were surveyed, using open-ended questions, to determine attitudes to medical student training in private hospitals. Responses were analysed using inductive content analysis to determine dominant themes in relation to perceived benefits, perceived barriers, and factors that might facilitate clinical teaching in private hospitals. 

Results: A total of 59 participants completed the survey: 38 secondary care specialists; 4 general practitioners; 6 senior administrative staff; 6 hospital volunteers, medical students or registered nurses; and 5 not specified. There were three dominant themes related to perceived benefits of teaching: the breadth and diversity of clinical exposure for students, opportunities for students to understand private and community health systems, and the high quality of learning available. There were three dominant themes related to barriers: time constraints, patient unwillingness and limitations of learning opportunities. Factors that might facilitate medical education in private hospitals included senior staff acceptance and provision of clear support structures, faculty clinical academic support, administration and facilitation.

Conclusions: Attention to the issues raised, correction of the misunderstanding regarding patient acceptance of students and minimisation of disruption to clinical service provision should allow further development of training placements in private hospitals.


medical education; private hospitals; community based medical education

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