Research has shown that medical students are generally accepted by patients, but specific details that elucidate patient perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages to student involvement have not been documented. This study was designed to determine variables that influence patient satisfaction with students. Patients were interviewed by one of two faculty members using a questionnaire-style format that covered 12 variables regarding patient care. Patients were asked to rate the extent to which medical students helped or hindered their hospital stay, with regard to the 12 variables. Patients' attitudes were favorable regardless of the students' extent of clinical experience or clinical abilities or the patients' age or length of hospital stay. Patients reported that students spent time with them and answered their questions. Most patients stated that they would allow students to participate in their future hospital care. Positive patient-student interactions can have important effects on patients' expectations and their acceptance of future encounters with students. This fact is becoming increasingly important due to the changes in health care and the decreasing incidence of inpatient surgical encounters.
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