Crossborder curriculum partnerships: medical students' experiences on critical aspects

Dominique Waterval*, Janneke M. Frambach, Stephen M. Scott, Erik W. Driessen, Albert J. J. A. Scherpbier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The past decade has witnessed an upsurge in medical curriculum partnerships established across national boundaries to offer students at the foreign institution (host) a learning experience comparable to that of students at the exporting institution (home). However, since the learning environments and national healthcare contexts differ greatly between institutions, concerns have been raised in the literature about potential low quality of curriculum delivery, inadequate preparation of students to practice in the host country healthcare setting, and a culture shock for host students having to study a home curriculum.. The experiences and opinions of medical students related to these concerns have not been investigated. This study takes an explorative approach on key challenges faced by host institution students.

Method: Three hundred sixty-one host students recruited from 3 partnerships completed a survey about their motives, transition from high school, language, preparedness for practice, future career planning, and general satisfaction. Descriptive statistics of closed-ended items and thematic analysis of open-ended items were performed.

Results: Findings revealed that students generally held positive views of the education they received. Switching to a new language of instruction (English) and learning environment was not perceived as a major obstacle. However, a significant portion of students who as non-nationals did not speak the language of the patient population felt this complicated effective workplace-based learning.

Conclusion: Despite differences in learning experiences, host students felt the partnership afforded opportunities to acquire unique academic competencies and boost their career. Further adaptation of the home curriculum to the host country healthcare system may be beneficial, without losing sight of medical curriculum partnerships' potential to offer graduates an international outlook on global healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2018


  • Transnational education
  • Crossborder curriculum partnerschips
  • Internationalization
  • Student survey


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