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A Clinical Log was introduced as part of a medical student learning portfolio, aiming to develop a habit of critical reflection while learning was taking place, and provide feedback to students and the institution on learning progress. It was designed as a longitudinal self-directed structured record of student learning events, with reflection on these for personal and professional development, and actions planned or taken for learning.
As incentive was needed to encourage student engagement, an innovative Clinical Log station was introduced in the OSCE, an assessment format with established acceptance at the School. This study questions: How does an OSCE Clinical Log station influence Log use by students?
The Log station was introduced into the formative, and subsequent summative, OSCEs with careful attention to student and assessor training, marking rubrics and the standard setting procedure. The scoring process sought evidence of educational use of the log, and an ability to present and reflect on key learning issues in a concise and coherent manner.
Analysis of the first cohort’s Log use over the four-year course (quantified as number of patient visits entered by all students) revealed limited initial use. Usage was stimulated after introduction of the Log station early in third year, with some improvement during the subsequent year-long integrated community-based clerkship. Student reflection, quantified by the mean number of characters in the ‘reflection’ fields per entry, peaked just prior to the final OSCE (mid-Year 4). Following this, very few students continued to enter and reflect on clinical experience using the Log.
While the current study suggested that we can’t assume students will self-reflect unless such an activity is included in an assessment, ongoing work has focused on building learner and faculty confidence in the value of self-reflection as part of being a competent physician.