Although current literature supports the benefits of family-centered rounds on medical education, few studies have explored students’ perceptions of family-centered rounds.


The aim of this study was to provide a better and broader understanding of the effect of family-centered rounds on medical student education.


During the inpatient portion of the third-year pediatric clerkship at a southeastern United States 4-year medical school, students were exposed to family-centered and conference room work rounds and completed a post-hoc reflective open-ended questionnaire. The study was conducted from July to December 2007 and the inpatient experience was at one of two large academic medical centers. Using a constant comparative approach, the qualitative content of 45 of the 63 potential students’ responses was analyzed.


Family-centered rounds served as an opportunity for medical students to build their practice-based knowledge through direct and simultaneous interaction with the medical team, patients, and families. Family member communication, medical team communication, and increased exposure to patients allowed for unique learning opportunities such as augmentation of communication skills, practice with use of lay terms, legitimate peripheral participation, and humanizing cognitive understanding of diseases. Areas of concern noted by the students included space limitations, length of rounds, potential anxiety provoked in the patient, and faculty and resident comfort with teaching certain topics.


Our qualitative analysis of medical student perceptions on family-centered rounds suggests that pediatric medical student education may benefit by improving knowledge and practice with communication and humanizing disease processes. However, perceived barriers, such as concerns about space or instructor comfort with teaching certain topics, existed. Further studies are warranted to gain a better understanding of the educational impact of conducting this type of rounds.

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