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Peer mentoring: evaluation of a new model of clinical placement in the Solomon Islands undertaken by an Australian medical school

Submitted: 18 December 2014
Revised: 3 September 2015
Accepted: 8 September 2015
Published: 18 November 2015

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Author(s) : Smith JD, Jones P, Fink J.

Janie SmithPeter Jones

Citation: Smith JD, Jones P, Fink J.  Peer mentoring: evaluation of a new model of clinical placement in the Solomon Islands undertaken by an Australian medical school. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3410. Available: (Accessed 19 October 2017)


Introduction:Electives and selectives in developing countries are an important part of student learning experiences. During 2013, Bond University on the Gold Coast of Queensland in Australia piloted final year undergraduate medical student placements (n=33) at Kirakira Hospital, on Makira Island in the Solomon Islands. The placement was evaluated that year.
Methods:The clinical placement in Kirakira Hospital required 12months of planning by the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine of Bond University in 2012. The evaluation of 2013 placements included a literature review; semi-structured interviews with participating Bond University and Kirakira Hospital staff, and with community members (n=16); an electronic survey (n=18); a focus group with participating students (n=9); and a written report with recommendations.
Results:All groups that participated in the evaluation the students, Bond University faculty, Kirakira Hospital staff and community members found that this was an extremely valuable, personally safe, clinically fascinating and professionally life changing student experience, which was greatly appreciated by, and contributes to, the local Kirakira community. The greatest strength of the program was the peer mentoring and supervision model whereby four students worked in pairs supported by nurses, the doctor and local community. The main challenges were the supervision arrangements and available resources.
Conclusions:Placements in developing countries can be career highlights for all students. This placement now has a solid foundation, is philosophically sound and provides multidisciplinary Australian students with a great experience, and leaves a long term legacy to the community.

Key words: Australia, developing countries, peer mentoring, rural clinical placement, Solomon Islands.

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