BACKGROUND: The World Health Assembly recently adopted a resolution to urge improved competency in the provision of injury care through medical education. This survey sought to investigate trauma education experience and competency among final year medical students worldwide.
METHODS: An Internet survey was distributed to medical students and conducted from March 2008 to January 2009. Demographic data and questions pertaining to both instruction and attainment of specific skills in burn and trauma care were assessed.
RESULTS: There were 776 responses from final year medical students in 77 countries, with at least 10 countries from each economic stratum. Over 93% of final year students reported receiving some form of trauma or burn training, with 79% reporting a minimum compulsory requirement. Students received theoretical instruction without practical exposure. Few felt prepared to undertake basic procedures, such as laceration repair (19%), vascular access (8%), or endotracheal intubation (21%). Over 99% agreed that trauma education should be mandatory, but only half felt prepared to provide basic care. Those from low income and low middle income countries felt better prepared to provide trauma care than students from high middle and high income countries.
CONCLUSIONS: Trauma education and experience varies among medical students in different countries. Many critical concepts are not formally taught and practical experience with many basic procedures is often lacking. The present study confirms that the trauma care training received by medical students needs to be strengthened in countries at all economic levels.