Discussion Paper: Children in out-of-home care: What do medical students learn about them?


  • Katherine Thornton University of Melbourne




medical education, child, child abuse, education, professional


Out-of-home care (OOHC) refers to alternative care, such as foster care, kinship care or residential care, for children and young people up to 18 years old who are unable to safely live with their families. Child maltreatment is common, and 1 in 35 children in Australia received child protection services in 2014–2015. Placement in OOHC is considered an intervention of last resort, meaning that those in care are the highest risk cohort receiving protective services.

I conducted a small pilot study to explore what is currently taught to future doctors about children in OOHC and found that there is no formal teaching about these children in the University of Melbourne Doctor of Medicine course. Child abuse and neglect is covered in the paediatric curriculum, and mandatory reporting appears to be well covered. After reflecting on the implications of this omission, I considered a number of ways material about this topic could be implemented into medical school curricula. 

Author Biography

Katherine Thornton, University of Melbourne

Kate Thornton is a GP and academic registrar working in Melbourne, Australia


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How to Cite

Thornton, K. (2018). Discussion Paper: Children in out-of-home care: What do medical students learn about them?. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 19(3), 63–66. https://doi.org/10.11157/fohpe.v19i3.199