Perceptions of clinical neurosciences among trainees in Wuhan, China

Written by Lukas RV, Dong H, Li J, Wang Z, Jiang I, Sherer R

Aim: Understand attitudes of Chinese medical students toward clinical neuroscience at a time of medical education reform. Methods: A survey assessed Chinese medical students’ self-perceived knowledge of neurology and comfort in diagnosing/managing neurological disorders. An assessment of students’ preferred methods for learning neurology was also conducted. Results: Chinese students reported knowledge of neurology lower than most but not all other specialties. This self-reported knowledge increased between progressive years of training. However, comfort with the clinical care of neurologic patients did not improve. Bedside teaching, small group sessions and textbooks were deemed the most favored methods for learning. Discussion: An understanding of attitudes toward neurology among medical students in China can play an important step in curriculum development and reform in the neurosciences.
Despite the growing global burden of neurologic disorders, there is a substantial lack of comfort with clinical neurosciences among medical students [1]. This problem is potentially amplified by the paucity of neurosurgeons and neurologists and the need for nonspecialists to provide a large proportion of neurological care. We previously conducted a pilot study in 2011 to gauge the attitude of senior Chinese medical students regarding neurology [2] at a time of substantial change in the field of neurology in China [3,4]. The degree of discomfort was not concordant with what was described in other countries where neurology was routinely rated as the specialty with which students had the greatest discomfort. The medical school where our initial survey was conducted has undergone extensive curricular reform which includes both the preclinical and clinical neurosciences [5]. It has recently been demonstrated that the structure of the clinical neuroscience curriculum in the USA correlates with students matching in neuroscience residency programs [6]. With the recent structural curricular changes, it is an opportune time to reassess student attitudes toward the neurosciences. In the USA the need for additional neurologists outstrips the supply [7]. An analogous situation may be present in China [8]. A more clear understanding of the attitudes of Chinese medical students with respect to clinical neuroscience will be important to optimize the training for and subsequent delivery of neurological care in China.

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