Understanding the impact of academic difficulties among medical students: a scoping review

Kirtchuk, David, Wells, Geoff, Levett, Tom, Castledine, Clare and De Visser, Richard (2022) Understanding the impact of academic difficulties among medical students: a scoping review. Medical Education, 56 (3). pp. 262-269. ISSN 0308-0110

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Many medical students may encounter a range of academic and personal challenges during their course of study, but very little is known about their experiences. Our aim was to review the literature to inform future scholarship and to inform policy change.

A scoping review was conducted searching PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, British Education Index, Web of Science and ERIC for English language primary research with no date limits. This retrieved 822 papers of which eight met the requirements for inclusion in the review. Data were independently reviewed by two researchers and underwent thematic analysis by the research team.

Three major themes emerged. Theme 1: ‘Identity preservation’ addressed students' aim to preserve their sense of self in the face of academic difficulty and their tendency to seek support. This connected the apprehension many students expressed about their educational institutions to Theme 2: ‘The dual role of the medical school’—medical schools are required to support struggling students but are predominantly seen as a punitive structure acting as the gatekeeper to a successful career in medicine. Students' apprehension and attempts to protect their identities within this complex landscape often resulted in ‘maladaptive coping strategies’ (Theme 3).

Understanding and exploring the academic challenges faced by medical students through their own experiences highlight the need for the development of more individualised remediation strategies. Educators may need to do more to bridge the gap between students and institutions. There is a need to build trust and to work with students to enhance their sense of self and remediate approaches to engagement with learning, rather than focusing efforts on success in assessments and progression.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: academic difficulties, medical students, learning
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Primary Care and Public Health
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2021 08:36
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2022 01:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/101148

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