Young doctors write prescriptions regularly from their first day of practice. We investigated final-semester students' perceptions of their training in relation to prescribing in two Croatian medical schools with different clinical pharmacology (CPT) teaching styles (Zagreb: problem-based and Rijeka: lecture-based course).
A total of 315 students (220 in Zagreb, 95 in Rijeka) underwent a 4-week-long course in CPT in the academic year 2006/2007. We compared the impact of different educational methods on student performance using an MCQ assessment. After the training, students completed a paper questionnaire on prescribing skills and knowledge of pharmacotherapy.
Students in Rijeka were significantly more satisfied with their traditional lecture-based course. Only 56% of Zagreb students and 54% of students from Rijeka felt confident about their prescription-writing skills. Only 8% of Zagreb and none of Rijeka students had written more than six prescriptions during their entire medical curriculum. There was no difference in the participants' levels of factual knowledge of rational pharmacotherapy.
The style of learning about medicines did not affect students' factual knowledge. Only half of the student cohort felt confident about their ability to prescribe medicines, and few had practiced this skill during their medical training.