Programme no. 521-OP
Professional Development
Meeting real patients: a qualitative study of medical students’ experiences of early patient contact
Anette Graungaard*1, John Sahl Andersen*2
1Section of General Practice and Research Unit for General Practice and The University Clinic,Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen ,DK-1353 Copenhagen K ,Denmark, 2Section of General Practice and Research Unit for General Practice and The University Clinic,Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen ,DK-1353 Copenhagen K ,Denmark
* = Presenting author
Objectives: To examine first term medical students’ personal experiences and challenges with EPC.
Background: Teaching communication skills is an important task in the medical curriculum. It is widely agreed that the ability to communicate with the patient is just as important as biomedical knowledge and technical skills. We present data from an early patient contact course (EPC) with integrated theoretical and practical skills inspired by modifications of Kolb’s learning cycle.
Results: We found that meeting with a real patient – a person – was a central point of learning. Students’ perceptions and reflections on their future profession and personal skills were broadened. Students became respectful of a patients’ life and illness experiences, and their understanding of communication as central to a doctor’s daily work increased.
Material/Methods: A qualitative design was adopted, with data from written logbooks and focus groups interviews with medical students who had recently completed an EPC course. Data were analysed with a grounded theory approach.
Conclusion: Our results deepen the current knowledge of students’ benefit from EPC by taking it into first-term students’ perspectives and focusing on the personal experiences and challenges that the students met during the course. Further integration of the patient in the learning processes is recommended.
Points for discussion: Why should first-term medical students meet patients?

How should it be done?