Introduction: We assessed the pedagogical value of a student-led community-based experiential learning project called the Public Health Screening (PHS) run by medical and nursing students of the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS YLLSoM).Materials and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study using a self-administered anonymised questionnaire on medical and nursing students who participated in PHS using the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Survey Instrument. Participants also gave an overall score for their learning experience at the PHS. Results: The participation rate was 93.1% (576/619) for medical students and 100% (37/37) for nursing students. All participants gave the PHS learning experience a high rating (median = 8 out of maximum of 10, inter-quartile range, 7 to 9). A majority of participants felt that PHS had helped them to improve across all domains surveyed. For medical students, those in preclinical years and females were independently more likely to feel that PHS had helped them to improve in communication skills, teamwork, ability to identify social issues, taking action, and gaining and applying their knowledge than those in clinical years and males. Improved ability to interact with patients (β=1.64, 95%CI, 1.01-2.27), appreciation of challenges to healthcare faced by Singaporeans from lower income groups (β=0.93, 95%CI, 0.49-1.37), thinking of others (β=0.70, 95%CI, 0.04-1.37) and tolerance of different people (β =0.63, 95%CI, 0.17-1.10) were strongly associated with the overall rating score. Conclusion: PHS was a positive learning experience in a wide range of domains for all students involved. This suggests that student-organised community-based experiential learning projects have potential educational value for both medical and nursing students.
Experiential learning brings medical students out of the comfort zone of learning in their classrooms to acquire and apply knowledge and skills in an immediate and relevant setting. By linking theory and practice, experiential education differs from the traditional education in that it actively engages students in experiences that have benefits and consequences.
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