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The University of Southampton
Medical Education

Hopes and Fears

This project explores the backgrounds, expectations and preparations of ten prospective medical students prior to medical school entry and charts their transition during the early years of their undergraduate degree.

The Higher Education sector is increasingly concerned with the student experience. Oftentimes student satisfaction is measured through feedback questionnaires. Additional focus groups or student panels may be brought in, but these tend to focus on the kinds of questions that programme organisers may wish to answer rather than seeking to understand how membership of a new organization (medical school) impacts on the students' lives. In contrast, this study approaches the student experience in an exploratory and holistic manner and thus directly addresses these shortcomings.

Key research questions

Research participants are volunteers who responded to an invitation sent after they had received confirmation of their place at medical school, but before they actually started their course. The first interview took place at participants' homes. It focused on the prospective students' preparations for their UCAS application. The same participants were re-interviewed several times throughout the early years. In order to contextualise students' experiences, the researcher also participated in timetabled teaching, e.g. lectures, anatomy and pathology tutorials as well as student selected components. 


Findings from this project were presented both internally and externally. 

This project is subject to ethics approval from the School of Medicine Ethics Committee (reference: SOMSEC020.08 / Research Governance Reference: 5944)

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