Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Background: Practice-based learning is crucial in forming appropriate strategies for improving learning among the medical students that support the country’s understaffed health sector. Unsatisfactory learning consequently results in poor performance of students and poor quality of health care workforce in the long run. Exploring the perceptions about the current practice-based learning system and how to improve is thus vital. This study set out to explore the perceptions of Orthopaedic medicine students and their supervisors about practice-based learning at a tertiary training hospital.

Methods: This was an exploratory phenomenological qualitative study that involved in-depth interviews among 10 Orthopedic students during their rotation in the emergency ward of Mulago hospital and 6 of their supervisors. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and then imported into Atlas ti 8.3 for analysis. The data were coded and grouped into themes relating to perceptions of practice-based learning, general inductive analysis was used. The general inductive approach involved condensing the raw textual data into a brief and summary format. The summarized format was then analyzed to establish clear links between the perceptions of practice-based learning and the summary findings derived from the raw data.

Results: The mean age of the students was 23±1.5 years. Four out of the six supervisors were Orthopaedic officers while the remaining two were principal Orthopaedic officers, four out of the six had a university degree while the other two were diploma holders. The main themes arising were hands-on skills, an unconducive learning environment, the best form of learning, and having an undefined training structure. Particularly, the perceptions included the presence of too many students on the wards during the rotation, frequent stock-outs of supplies for learning, and supervisors being overwhelmed caring for a large number of patients.

Conclusion: Barriers to satisfactory practice-based learning were overcrowding on the wards and insufficient training materials. To improve practice-based learning, adequate learning materials are required and the number of students enrolled needs to be appropriate for the student – supervisor ratio.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Medical Education

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Orthopedics Commons