Original Research Articles

Enablers and obstacles to medical student satisfaction during obstetrics and gynaecology rotations


Providing care for pregnant women and responding to obstetric emergencies are tasks which medical graduates are expected to be competent in performing. To ensure this, Australian medical schools have set clinical learning objectives for students to achieve during their obstetrics rotation. Alarmingly, several studies have shown students are struggling to participate in these clinical experiences, especially the birthing process. Further evaluation of student experiences on labour ward is needed to identify common concerns and to improve the overall educational experience.

Materials and Methods

Year 5 medical students from James Cook University completed an optional anonymous questionnaire at the end of their Reproductive and Neonatal Health (RNH) rotation. A cross-sectional analysis was performed on responses. Open-ended responses underwent a content analysis and both common positive and negative themes were identified.


Assisting in deliveries and surgical procedures were regarded as highly valuable learning experiences. Male students reported that their gender was a clear drawback to their rotation experience (p <0.001). Competition with midwifery students and poor interactions with midwifery staff were common themes reported and contributed to 57% of students experiencing difficulty gaining clinical exposure whilst on labour ward.


Difficulty in gaining clinical experience within labour wards is increasing as the number of health care students continues to rise and the birth rate falls. The presence of gender bias and misunderstanding of student learning objectives by midwives further contributes to the competitive environment experienced by medical students during their obstetrics term. Greater collaboration and communication between medical schools and midwifery staff is vital to ensure quality education continues to be delivered and clinical requirements are achieved. The use of simulation training should also be further explored as a means to provide standardised educational experiences.

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