Are medical graduates really work-ready?

Few medical graduates believe they are well prepared to enter their profession, a retrospective study shows.

While most graduates feel confident in 41 of the 44 practice areas, including patient-centred care, a significant number do not rate themselves well or extremely well prepared in crucial areas, according to the survey of 135 graduates’ own assessment of their preparedness for work as an intern.

The areas where they do not feel confident include providing nutritional care, using informatics, cultural competency, using audits to improve patient care, clinical governance, and responding to error and patient safety.

The authors from the University of Tasmania say the results from their small pilot suggest “there are clear implications for further improving undergraduate medical education”.

“That basic nutritional care was identified as an area needing improvement is consistent with other findings about the capabilities and confidence required to communicate with patients about weight and obesity problems,” write Jenny Barr and colleagues in the MJA.

“This lack of confidence is important given increasing population levels of obesity.”

In a linked editorial, Professor Richard Murray, dean of medicine at James Cook University, and Professor Andrew Wilson, co-director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, note that the findings “raise the question of the utility of the medical internship model”.

“We believe there is a broader perspective from which to judge work-readiness: whether the training system (including internship) is producing sufficient numbers of clinicians ready for work that is aligned with community needs for integrated, person-centred, affordable health services for an ageing population that is experiencing higher levels of chronic disease,” they write.