What problems make students struggle during their undergraduate medical education? A qualitative exploratory study
Objective: To explore problems faced by struggling undergraduate medical students and their impact on student’s academics.
Methods: A qualitative case study was carried out from March to August 2019. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of sixteen struggling students. The interview questions were validated and then piloted to ensure clarity. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Due to sensitive nature of the data, confidentiality and anonymity was ensured. Thematic analysis was employed to get meaning with in the data set. All authors ensured analytical triangulation by independently analyzing the data before developing consensus on the codes and themes.
Results: Eleven sub-themes under four major themes emerged from the transcripts. Participants were found to be struggling with emotional, academics and family related problems. Psychological distress was caused by factors such as fight with friends, one-sided love, and hard financial times. Time management, lack of attention and commitments at home were few of the other problems. Problems had an impact on students as they were demotivated, lost focus in their studies, could not perform good and few participants even failed in examinations.
Conclusions: Students were struggling more with emotional and family related problems and less with academics related problems. They were impacting student’s academics. The study site had a robust mentoring program however, struggling students need timely identification and more dedicated time to help them manage their problems. Stress relieving activities and counselling sessions may frequently be added, and academically underachieved students should also be given extra care, support, and guidance.
How to cite this:
Aziz A, Mahboob U, Sethi A. What problems make students struggle during their undergraduate medical education? A qualitative exploratory study. Pak J Med Sci. 2020;36(5):1020-1024. doi: https://doi.org/10.12669/pjms.36.5.2267
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.