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Original Article
July 2002

Surgical Undergraduate Education in Rural Australia

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia.

Arch Surg. 2002;137(7):794-798. doi:10.1001/archsurg.137.7.794

Hypothesis  Surgical undergraduate education in a rural setting is feasible and sound in terms of educational outcomes.

Design  The final-year surgical curriculum at the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, was restructured to include the option of a rural surgical term.

Setting  Five provincial center hospitals in rural South Australia.

Interventions  Forty-three final-year medical students undertook rural surgical clerkships in 1998.

Main Outcome Measures  End-of-year results and subjective ward assessments were compared between the group of students who completed rural surgical terms and the remainder of the student group who participated in tertiary hospital-based electives. Subjective student feedback was obtained in a survey conducted by the Clinical Education Development Unit at the University of Adelaide.

Results  No significant (P = .45) differences in examination results were noted between the rural and city groups. A significant (P<.01) finding was observed in the subjective assessments, indicating that it was more difficult for the rural group to obtain an A grade compared with the city group. The rural students ranked the level of teaching and supervision highly and enjoyed the overall rural experience.

Conclusion  Surgical undergraduate education is practical in a rural setting and, for educational outcome, seems to be at least as effective as city-based surgical clerkships in preparing students for final examinations.