Medical education programs in North America are often based on the adult education theory of self-directed learning (SDL). Many kinds of SDL have been introduced into preclerkship education, clerkships, residency training, and continuing medical education. The first goal of this paper was to review SDL in North American medical education. The second goal was to describe an example of community-based clerkship in which SDL was applied in the department of family and community medicine of the University of Toronto. A third goal was to give three recommendations for Japanese clinical clerkships. The first recommendation is the effect of the learning contract. The second is that the preceptor should give quick and frequent feedback to students and that a useful Japanese feedback device should be developed with information technology. The third recommendation is that a new curriculum combining community-based education for students with continuing medical education for doctors is necessary to improve Japanese medical education.
Japan introduced a mandatory residency program in 2004. Teaching hospitals are now responsible for improving patient safety and the overall teaching environment. Questionnaires were sent to teaching hospitals in Kyushu to evaluate residents' work environments and to ask them about improving patient safety. Questionnaires asked about the work environment, experience with medical errors and adverse events, self-reported work conditions, personal anxiety levels about medical errors, and personal suggestions for decreasing medical errors. One hundred eight questionnaires were mailed, and 76 (70.3%) were returned complete and were analyzed. Most residents in Japan work long hours, feel extremely busy, and are anxious about medical errors; many of them reported personal involvement in medical errors or adverse events. Their suggestions to improve patient safety included improvement of the work environment, establishment of a resident support system, and better organization of medical charts and equipment. Considering residents' viewpoints for patient safety is important to help reduce errors in teaching hospitals.
This study explored the general public's perception of the clinical competence of residents. Methods: Individual interviews of laypersons, medical students, and residents and focus-group interviews of residents were conducted. Results: Individual interviews revealed the belief that residents acquired various clinical skills immediately after passing the national examination for medical practitioners. These skills included: assessment of the need for referrals, on-call jobs for after-hours and emergency services, interpreting X-ray films, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, performing surgery for appendicitis, and treating bone fractures and joint dislocations. Focus-group interviews revealed differences between residents and laypersons in the perception of residents' clinical skills. These skills included: general knowledge of diseases and medications, guidance about lifestyle after discharge, physical examinations, explanation of treatment, diagnostic imaging, and knowledge of or expertise in other medical professions. Conclusion: Laypersons and medical personnel have different perceptions about the clinical competence of residents.