The global variation of medical student engagement in teaching: Implications for medical electives.
INTRODUCTION: International medical electives, whereby undergraduates visit an institution in a country other than their own, are a common part of medical training. Visiting students are often asked to provide local teaching, which may be acceptable where the visitor is acting within the bounds of their own competency and the normal practices of both their home and host institutions. However, the extent to which teaching is an accepted student activity globally has not previously been described. This study aims to address this using an international survey approach. METHODS: A voluntary electronic survey, created using the Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-Surveys (CHERRIES) framework, was distributed across established international medical student networks. This assessed the involvement of medical students in teaching and the educator training they receive, with the intention of comparing experiences between high-income countries (HICs) and low/middle-income countries (LMICs) to gauge the engagement of both "host" and "visiting" students. RESULTS: 443 students from 61 countries completed the survey, with an equal proportion of respondents from LMICs (49.4%, 219/443) and HICs (50.6%, 224/443). Around two thirds of students reported providing teaching whilst at medical school, with most reporting teaching numerous times a year, mainly to more junior medical students. There was with no significant difference between LMICs and HICs. Around 30 per cent of all medical students reported having received no teacher training, including 40 per cent of those already providing teaching. CONCLUSION: This study suggests that students are engaged in teaching globally, with no difference between HIC and LMIC contexts. However, students are underprepared to act as educators in both settings. Providing teaching as part of an elective experience may be ethically acceptable to both host and home institutions, but needs to be supported by formal training in delivering teaching.