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Open Access Open Badges Original research article

Canadian Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery clerkship curricula: evolving toward tomorrow’s learners

Kate Kelly1, Kevin Fung2 and Laurie McLean1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

2 Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Western University, London, ON, Canada

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Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery 2013, 42:33  doi:10.1186/1916-0216-42-33

Published: 3 May 2013



Increasing focus is being placed on Clerkship curriculum design and implementation in light of new undergraduate medical education research and accreditation standards. Canadian Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (OTOHNS) Clerkship programs are continually but independently evolving towards a common goal of improving Clerkship curriculum.


An electronic survey was sent to undergraduate OTOHNS directors at all Canadian medical schools (n = 17) examining their Clerkship curricula. Themes included Clerkship format, teaching methods, faculty support and development, program strengths, and barriers.


Survey response rate was 76%. All responding schools had OTOHNS Clerkship programs ranging in type (mandatory, selective or elective) and length (<1 to 4 weeks). Learning modalities varied. Electronic learning tools were identified as increasingly important to curriculum delivery. Common strengths included wide clinical exposure and one-on-one mentoring. Multiple challenges were identified in curriculum implementation and evaluation. All schools expressed interest in developing national standards, objectives and e-learning resources.


Significant variation exists in OTOHNS Clerkship experiences between Canadian medical schools. Many schools perceive barriers of insufficient time, space and curriculum standardization. Interested Canadian OTOHNS educators are eager to collaborate to improve the collective OTOHNS Clerkship experience.