Introduction: Recognising potential advantages of community-orientated education, and responding to reforms in medical education policy, our medical school developed a community-focused module (Ní Chróinín et al., 2012). In partnership, Medicine for the Elderly and General Practice deliver the module in a combination of primary and secondary care settings. As students' perceptions of the educational environment may affect learning outcomes, the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM), a reliable, validated tool, specific to healthcare education, was used to assess participants' views of the environment in which this module was delivered.
Methods: All medical students complete the module in years 5/6 of the undergraduate MB programme; 155 students undertook the module in 2010. The DREEM questionnaire comprises 50 statements assessing features of the education climate, using a 5-point Likert-type scale, with an overall maximum score of 200 (150–200 excellent), with separate ranges for individual subscales of the questionnaire.
Results: Response rate was 98/1% (152/155), mean age 23.99 (SD 3.9 years), 58.8% were female, 67.5% Irish. The overall mean score 135.5 (SD 20.1) indicates a generally positive environment. For specific subscales, mean scores with interpretations were: learning- 31.6/48 (SD 6.1) (more positive perception); course organisers 32.1/44 (SD 4.9) (moving in the right direction); academic self-perceptions 21.7/32 (SD 3.9) (more positive feelings); atmosphere 32.4/48 (SD 5.6) (a more positive attitude); social self-perceptions 17.7/28 (SD 3.6) (not too bad). All areas ranked in the second highest of four possible categories; 68.6% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with statements reflecting positive perceptions of the environment.
Conclusion: Students' perceptions of the educational environment in which the module was delivered were largely positive, although there is room for continued development and improvement. A cooperative care model involving Medicine for the Older Person and General practice, with combined delivery in the community and hospital settings, offers a learning environment that is generally perceived positively by students.