Was there a change in perception of medical students of what good doctors are and what it would take to train them across a 14-year span? A mixed methods panel
ABSTRACT Background Although overall cultural differences exist between individuals from the X and Y generations, to our knowledge few previous studies have contrasted their expectations regarding what good doctors are, and their perceptions on the training processes they undergo. Aims To conduct a study exploring perceptions on what good doctors are and their perceptions about training among a sample of Brazilian medical students at the University of Sao Paulo Medical School, comparing groups from 2000 and 2014. We aimed to provide information that can be used to guide curriculum development in medical schools. Methods We conducted a mixed methods study of a series of open questions asked to medical students from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, in 2000 and 2014. This qualitative analysis focused on uncovering emerging themes related to students’ perceptions regarding what good doctors are and how they see their training process. A subsequent quantitative analysis through Natural Language Processing was undertaken. Results Gender distribution was balanced between the 2000 and 2014 groups, with most students being in the early 20s. Our main emerging concepts involved four themes: Skills and qualities of a good doctor, positive and negative aspects of the curriculum, as well as expectations related to students’ future career. From a qualitative perspective, the 2014 group focused their criticisms on the School of Medicine itself and the study overload, while the 2000 group focused its criticism on the faculty and competition. Therefore, the 2014 group experienced more criticism and less idealization in relation to the School and the medical training process. There were no statistically significant differences between the 2000 and 2014 groups, as well as across genders. Discussion Students in this sample have demonstrated little change over time in relation to their characterization of what good doctors are and how they should be trained. Their preferences for a practical, patient-centered education should guide future curriculum development in medical schools.