Background: The transition to the clinical courses represents a major challenge for medical students who are expected to become experiential learners, able to integrate theory and practice in the context of patient care. There are questions about how students face this challenge. Aim: To understand and compare the perceptions of students and clinical tutors on how medical students learn during the transition to the clinical levels of the curriculum. Material and methods: We performed eight focus group discussions with 54 students enrolled in years three to seven and we interviewed eight clinical tutors. Both students’ focus group discussions and tutors’ interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analyzed according to the Grounded Theory. Results: Nine main themes emerged from the analysis of students’ opinions and six from the tutors’ views. The following themes were common to both students and educators: educational activities, actors, clinical settings, learning strategies, transition markers and tutor’s role. Educators emphasized the importance of curricular courses’ design and students, that of emotions, adaptation and self-care strategies, and threats to learning. Conclusions: There is a common core of students’ and clinical tutors perceptions about the relevance of practical activities, social interactions and context in the development of students’ learning and adaptation strategies during the transition to the clinical levels of the curriculum. These results are related to social and cultural theories of learning. Thus we propose a model for early clinical learning that might help to stimulate the reflection of students and medical educators regarding clinical learning and contribute to the development of interventions that improve the clinical learning and teaching practices.
Models, educational; Students, medical; Teaching