HOW MEDICAL UNDERGRADUATES PREPARE FOR UNIVERSITY EXAMINATION: LESSON FROM A TEACHING MEDICAL INSTITUTION IN SOUTH INDIA
Background: Medical colleges in India conventionally follow a curriculum overfed with large volume of information expecting students will imbibe such curriculum unquestionably overlooking what and how they progress. There have been many attempts to improve the learning process of medical students, neglecting the process which students adopt towards such learning and prepare for their exams aiming better performance. Objective: To explore qualitatively the way medical undergraduates prepare for their university examination. Methods: Present qualitative research was undertaken among medical interns during Nov-2011 to March-2012. FGDs were conducted by trained moderator using semi-structured guidelines and note taker recorded each FGD. Content analysis of FGDs was primarily oriented towards behaviour of medical undergraduates during preparatory phase before their university examinations like study pattern, study material, eating behaviour, level of stress, addiction etc. Qualitative content analysis of textual level of data was undertaken using Atlas.ti.5.0 software package. Results: Students are serious about studies just before examinations and refer to notes prepared by seniors, small books with important topics, and self-made notes. Girls depend predominantly on self-made notes. Students primarily focus on important topics in each subject. Time-in-hand decides what they study and try to remember before exams. They become casual about their diet, clothing and self-care. Stress, fear and high academic expectation often drive them towards addictive substances. They often suffer from loneliness and seek empathy from opposite sex batch mates, seniors, teachers and family members and start believing in their fortune and examiners' will rather than actual preparation. Conclusion: Students' psychology and culture should be addressed in harmony with curriculum reform for better learning by medical undergraduates.