Medical students' comfort with children

Neelkamal Soares, Terry Stratton, John Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the comfort level of medical students beginning their paediatric clerkships, and to identify students' perceived concerns around interacting with children in a medical setting. Methods: Prior to beginning required paediatric clerkships, third-year students in two south-eastern US medical schools completed an anonymous, 13-item questionnaire eliciting prior personal experiences with children, as well as comfort levels with selected aspects of paediatric care. Results: Based on 237 responses (76.2% response rate), medical students' total child-related experiences were significantly associated with self-assessed comfort delivering paediatric care. Female students reported more prior experiences than male medical students; however, gender was not associated with comfort working with children. A dose-response curve of experience shows a critical level of two types of experiences for comfort in working with children. Students reported significantly lower levels of comfort in performing a physical exam on a child versus obtaining a child's medical history from a parent/caregiver. Students' child-related experiences were significantly associated with self-assessed comfort delivering paediatric care Conclusions: Medical students with little to no prior experience with children expressed significantly less comfort interacting with children in paediatric clerkships. A diversity of past experiences appeared to be a more meaningful correlate, as opposed to experience in a specific setting or context. Providing some general exposure to children during the preclinical years could instill in students greater comfort approaching their paediatric training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-180
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Teacher
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Review and Exam Preparation


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