Student perceptions of the care of children: impacts of pre-clerkship pediatric and primary care clinical teaching

  • Beverley Karras University of Saskatchewan
  • Saumya Selvaraj University of Calgary
  • Athena McConnell University of Saskatchewan
  • Deirdre Andres University of Saskatchewan
  • Krista Trinder University of Saskatchewan
  • Meredith McKague University of Saskatchewan
Keywords: medical education, clinical skills, paediatrics, general practice


Background: Pediatric clinical skills teaching sessions provide an early opportunity for students to be exposed to the medical care of children. This report describes second and third year medical students’ perceptions of and attitudes towards working with children before and after the pediatric clinical skills teaching sessions, and the experiences of those students precepted by pediatricians only compared to those students working with a combination of pediatricians and family physicians.

Method: A 13 question survey was voluntarily completed before and after teaching sessions.  Written reflective assignments were qualitatively analyzed for key themes. Response rate averaged 68% with class sizes of 84 and 85 students.

Results: Students’ perceptions of the care of children were generally very positive.  Some differences were found based on gender, phase of study and prior clinical exposure to pediatric care.  Pre and post responses were similar, regardless of preceptor specialty. Students with family physician preceptors identified the themes of prevention, health promotion and multidisciplinary care in their reflections. 

Conclusions: Students had already formed positive attitudes toward the medical care of children and intended to care for children in their future practice. Further research is needed into the effects of pre-clerkship experiences in the care of children on choice of medical specialty.

Author Biographies

Beverley Karras, University of Saskatchewan

Assistant Professor

Department of Academic Family Medicine

Saumya Selvaraj, University of Calgary


Department of Family Medicine


Athena McConnell, University of Saskatchewan

Assistant Professor

Department of Pediatrics

Deirdre Andres, University of Saskatchewan

Clinical Assistant Professor

Department of Academic Family Medicine

Krista Trinder, University of Saskatchewan

Research Coordinator

Council of Health Science Deans

Meredith McKague, University of Saskatchewan

Associate Professor

Department of Academic Family Medicine

Major Contributions and Research Articles