Attitudes and knowledge of urethral catheters: a targeted educational intervention

Andrew Cohen, Charles Nottingham, Vignesh Packiam, Nora Jaskowiak, Mohan Gundeti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the training of medical students and their confidence in urethral catheter placement, given growing evidence of unnecessary urology consults and iatrogenic injury. Subjects and Methods: A third-year medical school class was queried about their attitudes and knowledge of catheter placement before and after the Clinical Biennium. The Clinical Biennium introduces hands-on skills prior to clinical clerkships. Urethral catheterisation is one of the skill stations that students rotate through, and urology residents provide a didactic session and supervised simulation. Confidence was self-rated regarding catheter technique, knowledge, troubleshooting, and comfort with placement in the same and opposite gender. Factual questions were posed about proper insertion and malfunctioning catheters. Results: In all, 92 students participated in the initial survey, 41% female and 59% male, and 87% of the students had never placed a catheter. Students desired high confidence in catheter skills (4.4/5). There were no significant differences in responses for those with a desire to pursue urology vs other specialties, or procedural fields compared with non-procedural fields. Prior independent learning was reported by 38% of students and was a predictor for increased confidence across all domains (P < 0.05). In all, 16.7% of students initially identified proper male urethral insertion distance, which improved to 95.6% after the session. Student interest in urology modestly increased after the educational session (P = 0.028). At 3–6 months follow-up, students had performed a median (interquartile range) of 4 (2–7) urethral catheter placements, and 74.2% of students rated training useful or extremely useful. Indeed, 54.8% desired more instruction. Knowledge assessment indicated that 93% of students retained comprehension of proper male urethral insertion distance. Clinical Foley training rarely contradicted instruction from the Clinical Biennium (6.5%). At all time-points, medical student knowledge for troubleshooting catheters was low. Conclusions: Medical students strive for high confidence in urethral catheter placement. Prior targeted education improves confidence and knowledge. Together with clinical experience, these effects are durable up to 6 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-659
Number of pages6
JournalBJU International
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Foley insertion
  • iatrogenic urethral injury
  • medical student confidence
  • simulation
  • urethral catheterisation
  • urethral injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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