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Medical students’ unique experience of army leadership training: a qualitative study

Abstract

Objectives To assess the interactive experience of first year medical students attending the leadership and management course hosted by a British Army Reserve Field Hospital developed in partnership with Liverpool University.

Methods 244 students submitted a 1000-word structured reflective learning assignment about their reaction to, learning from and any behaviour and attitude changes as a result of, the training. The assignments were thematically analysed to identify how aspects of the training had impacted upon the students' understanding of leadership and teamwork. Their comments relating to the army were analysed to gain insight into their views and experience of the training.

Results Students were surprised at how enjoyable and useful they found the course. Initially they expressed scepticism about what they could learn in an army-based environment. However, the training, particularly command and planning tasks, helped them appreciate and understand the different skills individuals can bring to a team environment, and the importance of everyone contributing. While some students were challenged by aspects of the course, with support and encouragement from team-mates and the army personnel, they learned they could achieve more together.

Conclusions Teaching leadership and management skills to medical students is a challenge which can be effectively addressed by adapting and developing army training resources. Students overcame initial scepticism about participating, and learned a lot about themselves and each other. In addition, the army developed a better understanding of the doctors of the future. The expertise of the army in delivering this training was crucial to its success as the medical school could not have provided this experience unsupported.

  • EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training)
  • QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
  • Leadership

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