How Does the First Clerkship Affect Medical Students' Views of the Relationship Between Physicians and Nurses?

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Preparing future physicians to work collaboratively with nurses is a must for today's educators. Effective physician-nurse collaboration improves patient care and health outcomes. Medical students' views of the physician-nurse relationship and how these views may evolve during their clerkships have not been well examined.


Medical students on their first clinical clerkship completed the Jefferson Survey of Attitudes Towards Physician-Nurse Collaboration on the first and last day of their 6-week obstetrics and gynecology clerkship. This 20-question instrument addresses areas of responsibility and collaboration between physicians and nurses and has construct validity and reliability. All questions used a 4-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 4=strongly agree). Pre- and post-clerkship scores were compared using paired t tests.


Twenty-five students completed the pre- and post-surveys with a 100% response rate. Students overall had positive views of the physician-nurse relationship. At the completion of the clerkship, medical students felt more strongly that “during their education; medical and nursing students should be involved in teamwork in order to understand their respective roles” (pre: 3.82, post: 3.95, P=.042), and that “there are many overlapping areas of responsibility between physicians and nurses” (pre: 3.26, post: 3.57, P=.008).


Our work reveals promising data that medical students begin their clinical clerkships with positive views of the physician-nurse relationship. Furthermore after the completion of their first clerkship, the students had significantly higher views of the importance of collaboration and shared responsibility.

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