Medical Student’s Perspective on Prehospital Training

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Danielle Furness


Emergency medicine is a valued part of the medical curriculum, and students gain exposure in this field during clinical rotations. However, whilst medical students recognise the professional responsibility of working within one’s competency, as according to the GMC Good medical practice (2013), they do not feel confident or prepared using their clinical skills in a medical emergency (Xie JY, 2019). It is possible that this ambiguity is partly due to a gap in undergraduate medical school education/exposure in the pre-hospital environment which then translates into uncertainty in these situations as newly qualified doctors.

There is significant evidence of the effectiveness of online simulation training of a major incident (Rajagopal et al., 2020), and a similar method could be used across medical schools to deliver pre-hospital teaching to students. Similarly, a medical student first responder scheme, currently used in 12 UK medial schools, is an opportunity for students to gain experience in independently treating acutely unwell patients in the prehospital environment (Orsi et al., 2022), and has received positive feedback, however, operates on a voluntary basis and many students will not have access to this training as part of their medical school curriculum.

In my experience, my university provided me with a 1 week in-person ‘Major Incident Week’ course which consists of lectures and clinical skills workshops, as well as a 1-day live simulation of a major incident. This simulation involves over 300 participants including students, actors, local fire and police services, ambulance service, and doctors. This course provides a unique and invaluable experience of utilising prehospital standards of practice in patient care and increase students’ confidence when undertaking these clinical skills, by replicating the ‘real-world’ series of events.

The importance of pre-hospital training amongst medical students is clear. As per my experience, a more formal interactive, simulation-based training mandated for medical students could increase engagement and student’s confidence when undertaking the acute care rotation and would enable medical students to be first responders should a member of the public require first aid. However more research is needed into this field.

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References for abstract:

(2013) Good medical practice-english - gmc. Available at: (Accessed: 26 October 2023).

Orsi, A. et al. (2022) Perceptions and experiences of medical student first responders: A mixed methods study - BMC medical education, BioMed Central. Available at: (Accessed: 21 October 2023).

MB;, R.A.N. (2020) Simulated mass casualty incident triage exercise for training medical personnel, Journal of education & teaching in emergency medicine. Available at: (Accessed: 21 October 2023).

Xie JY, Frost, Meakin, (2019) Not quite a doctor, but should I help? A qualitative exploration of medical students’ attitudes towards responding to medical emergencies that occur in the public domain, BMJ open. Available at: (Accessed: 21 October 2023).