Medical student perceptions of dermatology teaching: A focus group study

Introduction: Dermatology teaching at tertiary institutions is considered either inconsistent or inadequate despite its prevalence in primary care practices. It has been found that Australian undergraduate medical students receive an average of 3 dermatology lectures1. This occurs on a background of an already overcrowded syllabus that prioritises other subjects.
It has been proposed that eLearning may be an acceptable and practical option for teaching such a highly visual specialty. This study had two purposes: (1) to critique current dermatology teaching, and (2) identify favourable characteristics for an online resource.
Method: Four focus groups were arranged with 30 clinical students who had just completed their formal dermatology tutorials at Royal North Shore Hospital. A single facilitator acted to guide the conversation through 4 key themes. All focus groups were recorded, transcribed and analysed using NVIVO software.
Results: Students strongly believed that dermatology should be included in the undergraduate curriculum because of its clinical frequency and importance. They believed that the current dermatology program felt “tacked on” as an “afterthought” as it was a low priority of the university. Many students recognised the importance of visual stimuli and pattern recognition in dermatology education and believed that this could be accomplished with eLearning. The results reflect known pedagogy regarding adults learning and the importance of increasing dermatology education at an undergraduate level to increase familiarity and confidence in the diagnosis and management of dermatological diseases.
1. 1. Gupta, A., Chong, A. H., Scarff, C. E., & Huilgol, S. C. (2016). Dermatology teaching in Australian Medical Schools. Australasian Journal of Dermatology.

Dr. Philippa Dickison