Medical students' perspectives on the program outcome drivers of community immersion: a realist-informed study

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Philippine Journal of Health Research and Development


Background: The effects of community immersion programs and other forms of community-based medical education on students have been highlighted in the literature. However, the driving factors that generate these outcomes are not emphasized by many authors.

Objective: This study aimed to identify and explain the important contextual factors and mechanisms considered as driving factors of the outcomes of community immersion programs. Methodology: An exploratory qualitative inquiry that employed focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and reflection papers was utilized. The realist approach provided the structure in eliciting and analyzing medical students’ perspectives on the driving factors of the program outcomes of community immersion. Data were analyzed through thematic analysis.

Results: The outcomes generated by the community immersion program are consistent with the literature as well as relevant to the course and social outcomes as identified by De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute. Uncovered major driving factors for these program outcomes include: “perceiving things from a different perspective”, and “positive attitude towards community health”. Various contextual factors that trigger these driving factors were further unpacked that provide a backdrop to the community immersion program.

Conclusion: Factors that bring about the program outcomes of community immersion are evident in the experiences of medical students. Focusing on these factors may allow community preceptors and administrators to have clearer perspectives on the factors to focus on in teaching community medicine through community immersion. It is recommended that preceptors and administrators consider and nurture these factors during community immersion to be effective in teaching medical students in the community setting and in the provision of primary health services to communities.

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