Student assistantship programme: An evaluation of impact on readiness to transit from medical student to junior doctor

Aloysius Chow, Shiwei Chen, Lucy Victoria Rosby, Vishalkumar G Shelat, Jennifer Cleland, Bernadette Bartlam, Helen Smith

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Studies report that medical graduates are not prepared for practice as expected, and interventions have been developed to prepare them for practice. One such intervention is the assistantship, which provides hands-on opportunities to hone clinical skills and undertake responsibilities under supervision. The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMed) is Singapore’s newest medical school, and students undergo a Student Assistantship Programme (SAP) to prepare for practice as junior doctors (PGY1). This study evaluated the SAP from the students’ and clinical supervisors’ perspectives.

Students completed online questionnaires to assess readiness for practice before and after SAP, and a subsample were interviewed about their experiences of SAP and its impact on their preparedness for PGY1. In addition, after our graduates had begun work as PGY1 doctors, their clinical supervisors completed an online questionnaire and were interviewed about the perceived benefits of SAP and the attributes of our graduates as junior doctors.

Fifty (96%) students completed the pre-SAP questionnaire and 46 (92%) completed the post-SAP questionnaire. Levels of preparedness increased post-SAP (mean scores range pre-SAP: 2.38 to 4.32 vs post-SAP: 3.08 to 4.48); so did opportunities to undertake PGY1 duties (pre-SAP: 56% vs post-SAP: 96%), and hands-on experience in medical emergencies (pre-SAP: 76% vs post-SAP: 89%).Experience of acute care situations increased except “paracetamol overdose”. Readiness to be first respondents in ten acute situations improved (statistically significant for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation, gastrointestinal bleed, sepsis, and adverse drug reactions). Three themes emerged from twenty-five student interviews: learning about the work environment, opportunities to learn in a safe environment, and enhancing SAP for future students. Thirty-three supervisors completed the questionnaire, and 70% rated SAP positively in preparing students for PGY1. Eight supervisors interviewed shared positively about the content, timing, and duration of SAP; and suggested future SAPs help students to develop coping and reflective skills.

The SAP improved students’ preparedness and experience across clinical areas, and students felt the SAP helped bridge undergraduate curriculum and work, provided opportunities to hone their skills and learn from junior doctors. Most clinical supervisors rated the SAP effective in preparing students for PGY1. This is the first formal evaluation of an assistantship in Singapore, and the findings are encouraging from the perspective of students and PGY1 supervisors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number99
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project received internal funding from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University Singapore, Singapore.

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the clinicians from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, and National University Hospital as well as students from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University for participating in this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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