“We don’t know what we need to learn”: Medical student perceptions of preparedness for practice in men’s health
Introduction: In response to poorer health status and lower use of healthcare services by men compared to women, the Australian National Male Health Policy (2010) includes a commitment to better workforce training. We present a formative evaluation assessing medical students’ preparedness and learning needs in relation to the care of men in order to inform the development of a commensurate curriculum framework.
Method: A 4-item Likert scale survey was administered to final-year students from one Australian medical school (n=170; 64% female, 36% male; 74% response). The survey assessed coverage of male health topics in the curriculum and preparedness for men’s health practice. Additional focus groups with 13 students from four Australian medical schools aimed to provide context for the survey data and better understanding of learning needs.
Results: Overall, 65% of students (67% male, 64% female) reported no or brief coverage of men’s health in the curriculum; 20% of students (14% male, 23% female) felt minimally prepared in men’s health practice. Students’ perceived learning needs mostly related to male reproductive system disorders. Focus group data highlighted a difference between the content/opportunities that exist in men’s health education compared with women’s health, stating that men’s health education tends to be “scattered” variably through the medical course and that student or educators’ personal interest tended to drive men’s health education. In addition, unlike opportunities to undertake sensitive examinations on females, practice opportunities for male genital and prostate examination were limited, with some reporting no coverage in their medical course.
Conclusion: From a student perspective, there is a need to enhance men’s health education in Australian medical schools by incorporating clinically relevant men’s health across curricula using a defined framework.
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