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Digital rectal examination: national survey of undergraduate medical training in Ireland
  1. Deirdre Fitzgerald,
  2. Stephen S Connolly,
  3. Michael J Kerin
  1. The Department of Surgery, University College Hospital Galway, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Stephen Connolly
 Department of Urology, University College Hospital Galway, Ireland; steconnolly{at}


Objective: To assess the experience gained in digital rectal examination (DRE) by medical students in the Republic of Ireland by the completion of undergraduate training.

Methods: A national survey was conducted targeting all 582 final year students from the five medical schools completing their undergraduate studies in the summer of 2005. Format was anonymous questionnaire. Experience of DRE was defined as the student having performed at least one examination on either patient or teaching mannequin.

Results: In total, 396 (68%) of 582 students responded. No experience of DRE was reported in 97 (24%), with mannequin-only experience in a further 78 (20%). Of the remaining 221 (56%) who performed DRE on at least one patient, one third (74) reported no confidence in their ability to interpret their findings properly.

Conclusion: Undergraduate training in DRE is limited. Training in DRE can no longer be reasonably considered part of the core curriculum taught in Irish medical schools.

  • DRE, digital rectal examination
  • PSA, prostate specific antigen
  • RTA, rectal teaching associates

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  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

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