Teaching the clinical encounter in psychiatry: a trial of Balint groups for medical students
Objective: Balint groups are being trialled as a method to facilitate understanding of the relational aspects of student encounters with psychiatric patients. This paper reports on the establishment, processes and trends in the student evaluations of these groups. Method: The groups have been introduced as part of the medical student curriculum at a tertiary referral hospital. In six of the eight weeks of the clinical rotation in psychiatry, students meet in a group led by the authors, to discuss relational aspects of their interactions with patients. Ten third-year postgraduate medical students participate in the group each rotation. The educational value of each meeting and the group overall is assessed using questionnaires. Results: The groups tended to be rated positively by the participants. However, students were less certain of the relevance to their clinical practice. Vignettes demonstrating aspects of group process are presented in the context of the leaders' experiential account. Conclusions: Short-term clinical reflection groups can be effectively implemented for medical students in a hospital environment. These groups have the potential to support students in the process of learning to work in doctor-patient relationships, but may encounter significant challenges necessitating adaptation of method and process to context.
Neurosciences not elsewhere classified