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1.  Medical Students' Exposure to and Attitudes about the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001037.
A systematic review of published studies reveals that undergraduate medical students may experience substantial exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, and that this contact may be associated with positive attitudes about marketing.
Background
The relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has become a source of controversy. Physicians' attitudes towards the industry can form early in their careers, but little is known about this key stage of development.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review reported according to PRISMA guidelines to determine the frequency and nature of medical students' exposure to the drug industry, as well as students' attitudes concerning pharmaceutical policy issues. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and ERIC from the earliest available dates through May 2010, as well as bibliographies of selected studies. We sought original studies that reported quantitative or qualitative data about medical students' exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, their attitudes about marketing practices, relationships with industry, and related pharmaceutical policy issues. Studies were separated, where possible, into those that addressed preclinical versus clinical training, and were quality rated using a standard methodology. Thirty-two studies met inclusion criteria. We found that 40%–100% of medical students reported interacting with the pharmaceutical industry. A substantial proportion of students (13%–69%) were reported as believing that gifts from industry influence prescribing. Eight studies reported a correlation between frequency of contact and favorable attitudes toward industry interactions. Students were more approving of gifts to physicians or medical students than to government officials. Certain attitudes appeared to change during medical school, though a time trend was not performed; for example, clinical students (53%–71%) were more likely than preclinical students (29%–62%) to report that promotional information helps educate about new drugs.
Conclusions
Undergraduate medical education provides substantial contact with pharmaceutical marketing, and the extent of such contact is associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism about negative implications of these interactions. These results support future research into the association between exposure and attitudes, as well as any modifiable factors that contribute to attitudinal changes during medical education.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The complex relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has long been a subject of discussion among physicians and policymakers. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that physicians' interactions with pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence clinical decision making in a way that is not always in the best interests of individual patients, for example, encouraging the use of expensive treatments that have no therapeutic advantage over less costly alternatives. The pharmaceutical industry often uses physician education as a marketing tool, as in the case of Continuing Medical Education courses that are designed to drive prescribing practices.
One reason that physicians may be particularly susceptible to pharmaceutical industry marketing messages is that doctors' attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry may form early in their careers. The socialization effect of professional schooling is strong, and plays a lasting role in shaping views and behaviors.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recently, particularly in the US, some medical schools have limited students' and faculties' contact with industry, but some have argued that these restrictions are detrimental to students' education. Given the controversy over the pharmaceutical industry's role in undergraduate medical training, consolidating current knowledge in this area may be useful for setting priorities for changes to educational practices. In this study, the researchers systematically examined studies of pharmaceutical industry interactions with medical students and whether such interactions influenced students' views on related topics.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a comprehensive literature search using appropriate search terms for all relevant quantitative and qualitative studies published before June 2010. Using strict inclusion criteria, the researchers then selected 48 articles (from 1,603 abstracts) for full review and identified 32 eligible for analysis—giving a total of approximately 9,850 medical students studying at 76 medical schools or hospitals.
Most students had some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry but contact increased in the clinical years, with up to 90% of all clinical students receiving some form of educational material. The highest level of exposure occurred in the US. In most studies, the majority of students in their clinical training years found it ethically permissible for medical students to accept gifts from drug manufacturers, while a smaller percentage of preclinical students reported such attitudes. Students justified their entitlement to gifts by citing financial hardship or by asserting that most other students accepted gifts. In addition, although most students believed that education from industry sources is biased, students variably reported that information obtained from industry sources was useful and a valuable part of their education.
Almost two-thirds of students reported that they were immune to bias induced by promotion, gifts, or interactions with sales representatives but also reported that fellow medical students or doctors are influenced by such encounters. Eight studies reported a relationship between exposure to the pharmaceutical industry and positive attitudes about industry interactions and marketing strategies (although not all included supportive statistical data). Finally, student opinions were split on whether physician–industry interactions should be regulated by medical schools or the government.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This analysis shows that students are frequently exposed to pharmaceutical marketing, even in the preclinical years, and that the extent of students' contact with industry is generally associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism towards any negative implications of interactions with industry. Therefore, strategies to educate students about interactions with the pharmaceutical industry should directly address widely held misconceptions about the effects of marketing and other biases that can emerge from industry interactions. But education alone may be insufficient. Institutional policies, such as rules regulating industry interactions, can play an important role in shaping students' attitudes, and interventions that decrease students' contact with industry and eliminate gifts may have a positive effect on building the skills that evidence-based medical practice requires. These changes can help cultivate strong professional values and instill in students a respect for scientific principles and critical evidence review that will later inform clinical decision-making and prescribing practices.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001037.
Further information about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on doctors and medical students can be found at the American Medical Students Association PharmFree campaign and PharmFree Scorecard, Medsin-UKs PharmAware campaign, the nonprofit organization Healthy Skepticism, and the Web site of No Free Lunch.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001037
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
2.  Learning health professionalism at Makerere University: an exploratory study amongst undergraduate students 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:76.
Background
Anecdotal evidence shows that unprofessional conduct is becoming a common occurrence amongst health workers in Uganda. The development of appropriate professional values, attitudes and behaviors is a continuum that starts when a student joins a health professional training institution and as such health professionals in training need to be exposed to the essence of professionalism. We sought to explore undergraduate health professions students' perceptions and experiences of learning professionalism as a preliminary step in addressing the problem of unprofessional conduct amongst health workers in Uganda.
Methods
Eight focus group discussions were conducted with 49 first to fifth year health professions undergraduate students of the 2008/2009 academic year at Makerere University College of Health Sciences. The focus group discussions were recorded and transcribed, and were analyzed using content analysis with emergent coding.
Results
The difference in the way first and fifth year students of Makerere University College of Health Sciences conceptualized professionalism was suggestive of the decline in attitude that occurs during medical education. The formal curriculum was described as being inadequate while the hidden and informal curricula were found to play a critical role in learning professionalism. Students identified role models as being essential to the development of professionalism and emphasized the need for appropriate role modeling. In our setting, resource constraints present an important, additional challenge to learning universal standards of health professionalism. Furthermore, students described practices that reflect the cultural concept of communalism, which conflicts with the universally accepted standard of individual medical confidentiality. The students questioned the universal applicability of internationally accepted standards of professionalism.
Conclusions
The findings call for a review of the formal professionalism curriculum at Makerere University College of Health Sciences to make it more comprehensive and to meet the needs expressed by the students. Role models need capacity building in professionalism as health professionals and as educators. In our setting, resource constraints present an additional challenge to learning universal standards of health professionalism. There is need for further research and discourse on education in health professionalism in the Sub-Saharan context of resource constraints and cultural challenges.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-76
PMCID: PMC2987936  PMID: 21050457
3.  “Concerns” about medical students’ adverse behaviour and attitude: an audit of practice at Nottingham, with mapping to GMC guidance 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):196.
Background
The development and maintenance of students’ professional behaviour and attitude is of increasing importance in medical education. Unprofessional behaviour in doctors has the potential to jeopardise patient safety, compromise working relationships, and cause disruption and distress. The General Medical Council issues guidance to medical schools and students describing the standards that should be attained.
Nottingham University medical school introduced a ‘Concerns’ form in 2009, to create a standardised, transparent and defensible means of recording and handling complaints about adverse attitudes or behaviours. This paper reports an audit of the system over the first three years.
Methods
The routinely-held database was enhanced with further detail collected from relevant student records. The data were explored in terms of the types of complaint, students who were reported, the people who reported them, and the actions taken afterwards. The data were also mapped to the current GMC guidance.
Results
189 valid forms were generated, relating to 143 students. The form was used by a wide variety of people, including clinical and non-clinical teachers, administrators, Hall Wardens, and fellow students. The concerns ranged from infringements of regulations to serious fitness to practise issues. Most were dealt with by faculty or pastoral care staff but some required escalation to formal hearings. The complaints were mapped successfully to GMC documentation, with the highest proportions relating to the GMC categories ‘Good Clinical Care’ and ‘Working with Colleagues’.
Male and ethnic minority students appeared to be more likely to have a Concern raised, but this is a tentative conclusion that requires a larger sample. Undergraduate (as opposed to Graduate Entry) students may also be at greater risk.
Conclusions
A simple form, freely available, but designed to prevent frivolous or malicious use, has provided valuable data on unprofessional behaviour and the responses elicited. Some parts of the form require improvements, and these are underway to provide more efficient use, audit and review in future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-196) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-196
PMCID: PMC4189166  PMID: 25239087
Medical students; Unprofessional behaviour; Audit; Fitness-to-practise; GMC guidance
4.  Evaluating professionalism in medical undergraduates using selected response questions: findings from an item response modelling study 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:43.
Background
Professionalism is a difficult construct to define in medical students but aspects of this concept may be important in predicting the risk of postgraduate misconduct. For this reason attempts are being made to evaluate medical students' professionalism. This study investigated the psychometric properties of Selected Response Questions (SRQs) relating to the theme of professional conduct and ethics comparing them with two sets of control items: those testing pure knowledge of anatomy, and; items evaluating the ability to integrate and apply knowledge ("skills"). The performance of students on the SRQs was also compared with two external measures estimating aspects of professionalism in students; peer ratings of professionalism and their Conscientiousness Index, an objective measure of behaviours at medical school.
Methods
Item Response Theory (IRT) was used to analyse both question and student performance for SRQs relating to knowledge of professionalism, pure anatomy and skills. The relative difficulties, discrimination and 'guessabilities' of each theme of question were compared with each other using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Student performance on each topic was compared with the measures of conscientiousness and professionalism using parametric and non-parametric tests as appropriate. A post-hoc analysis of power for the IRT modelling was conducted using a Monte Carlo simulation.
Results
Professionalism items were less difficult compared to the anatomy and skills SRQs, poorer at discriminating between candidates and more erratically answered when compared to anatomy questions. Moreover professionalism item performance was uncorrelated with the standardised Conscientiousness Index scores (rho = 0.009, p = 0.90). In contrast there were modest but significant correlations between standardised Conscientiousness Index scores and performance at anatomy items (rho = 0.20, p = 0.006) though not skills (rho = .11, p = .1). Likewise, students with high peer ratings for professionalism had superior performance on anatomy SRQs but not professionalism themed questions. A trend of borderline significance (p = .07) was observed for performance on skills SRQs and professionalism nomination status.
Conclusions
SRQs related to professionalism are likely to have relatively poor psychometric properties and lack associations with other constructs associated with undergraduate professional behaviour. The findings suggest that such questions should not be included in undergraduate examinations and may raise issues with the introduction of Situational Judgement Tests into Foundation Years selection.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-43
PMCID: PMC3146946  PMID: 21714870
5.  Developing personal attributes of professionalism during clinical rotations: views of final year bachelor of clinical medical practice students 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:146.
Background
Medical professionalism as a set of behaviours that transcends personal values, beliefs and attitudes to incorporate ethical and moral principles is considered a covenant between society and the practice of medicine. The Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice (BCMP) a three year professional degree was launched at the University of the Witwatersrand in January 2009 in response to a documented shortage of doctors especially in the rural areas of South Africa. The BCMP programme is unique in its offering as it requires a teaching approach that meets the needs of an integrated curriculum, providing for an accelerated transition from the classroom to the patient’s bedside.
Methods
Following five week attachments in designated District Education Campuses, 25 final year BCMP students were required to reflect individually on the covenant that exists between society and the practice of medicine based on their daily interactions with health care workers and patients for three of the five rotations in a one page document. A retrospective, descriptive case study employed qualitative methods to group emerging themes from 71 portfolios. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Results
As an outcome of an ethical analysis, the majority of BCMP students reflected on the determinants of accountable and responsible practice (N=54). The commitment to the Oath became significant with a personalised reference to patients ‘as my patients’. Students acknowledged professional health care workers (HCWs) who demonstrated commitment to core values of good practice as they recognised the value of constantly reflecting as a skill (n=51). As the students reflected on feeling like ‘guinea pigs’ (n=25) migrating through periods of uncertainity to become ‘teachable learners’, they made ethical judgements that demonstrated the development of their moral integrity. A few students felt vulnerable in instances where they were pressured into ‘pushing the line’.
Conclusions
Through their portfolio narratives, BCMP students showed a willingness to shape their evolving journeys of moral growth and personal development. This study has highlighted as an ongoing challenge the need to identify a process by which professionalism is sustained by HCWs to benefit health sciences students.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-146
PMCID: PMC4107478  PMID: 25030266
Professionalism; Personal attributes; Health sciences students; Clinical rotations
6.  Wanted: role models - medical students’ perceptions of professionalism 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:115.
Background
Transformation of medical students to become medical professionals is a core competency required for physicians in the 21st century. Role modeling was traditionally the key method of transmitting this skill. Medical schools are developing medical curricula which are explicit in ensuring students develop the professional competency and understand the values and attributes of this role. The purpose of this study was to determine student perception of professionalism at the University of Ottawa and gain insights for improvement in promotion of professionalism in undergraduate medical education.
Methods
Survey on student perception of professionalism in general, the curriculum and learning environment at the University of Ottawa, and the perception of student behaviors, was developed by faculty and students and sent electronically to all University of Ottawa medical students. The survey included both quantitative items including an adapted Pritzker list and qualitative responses to eight open ended questions on professionalism at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. All analyses were performed using SAS version 9.1 (SAS Institute Inc. Cary, NC, USA). Chi-square and Fischer’s exact test (for cell count less than 5) were used to derive p-values for categorical variables by level of student learning.
Results
The response rate was 45.6% (255 of 559 students) for all four years of the curriculum. 63% of the responses were from students in years 1 and 2 (preclerkship). Students identified role modeling as the single most important aspect of professionalism. The strongest curricular recommendations included faculty-led case scenario sessions, enhancing interprofessional interactions and the creation of special awards to staff and students to “celebrate” professionalism. Current evaluation systems were considered least effective. The importance of role modeling and information on how to report lapses and breaches was highlighted in the answers to the open ended questions.
Conclusions
Students identify the need for strong positive role models in their learning environment, and for effective evaluation of the professionalism of students and teachers. Medical school leaders must facilitate development of these components within the MD education and faculty development programs as well as in clinical milieus where student learning occurs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-115
PMCID: PMC3537482  PMID: 23153359
Professionalism; Curriculum; Undergraduate medical education; Learning environment
7.  The impact of interest  
Canadian Family Physician  2008;54(1): 78 - 79 .
OBJECTIVE
To describe the knowledge of, and experience with, the Interest Group in Family Medicine (IgFM) at the University of Toronto, among undergraduate medical students; to explore the effects of the IgFM on undergraduate medical students; and to help determine future directions for the IgFM and other family medicine interest groups in Canada.
DESIGN
Qualitative descriptive design and focus groups.
SETTING
The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto in Ontario.
PARTICIPANTS
A total of 45 students in the undergraduate medical school program at the University of Toronto participated in this study. Approximately equal numbers of students from each year were represented in the sample.
METHOD
Focus groups were conducted to determine students’ knowledge of, experiences with, and perspectives on the IgFM. The focus groups were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were coded and analyzed for themes using qualitative content analysis. Data were collected until saturation of emerging themes was reached.
MAIN FINDINGS
The students were generally knowledgeable about the IgFM and many had attended IgFM events. The IgFM had different effects on students depending on their level of interest in family medicine (FM). For those already interested in FM, the IgFM helped to maintain and support that interest. For students still undecided about their career choices, the IgFM helped to support continued interest in FM by dispelling negative myths about the discipline, providing positive peer influences, and supplying information about careers in FM. For students not interested in FM, the IgFM provided helpful information about the discipline. Students also had many useful suggestions regarding the future direction of the IgFM.
CONCLUSION
The IgFM has been successful in increasing medical student exposure to FM and in supporting students’ interest in this discipline. Information from this study also provides strategies for future direction to the IgFM and other family medicine interest groups in Canadaand the United States.
PMCID: PMC2293322  PMID: 18208961
8.  Leadership and management in the undergraduate medical curriculum: a qualitative study of students’ attitudes and opinions at one UK medical school 
BMJ Open  2014;4(6):e005353.
Objective
To explore undergraduate medical students’ attitudes towards and opinions about leadership and management education.
Design
Between 2009 and 2012 we conducted a qualitative study comprising five focus group discussions, each devoted to one of the five domains in the Medical Leadership Competency Framework, (Personal Qualities, Working with Others, Managing Services, Improving Services and Setting Direction). Each discussion examined what should be learnt, when should learning occur, what methods should be used, how should learning be assessed, what are the barriers to such education.
Participants
28 students from all three clinical years (4–6) of whom 10 were women.
Results
2 inter-related themes emerged: understanding the broad perspective of patients and other stakeholders involved in healthcare provision and the need to make leadership and management education relevant in the clinical context. Topics suggested by students included structure of the National Health Service (NHS), team working skills, decision-making and negotiating skills. Patient safety was seen as particularly important. Students preferred experiential learning, with placements seen as providing teaching opportunities. Structured observation, reflection, critical appraisal and analysis of mistakes at all levels were mentioned as existing opportunities for integrating leadership and management education. Students’ views about assessment and timing of such education were mixed. Student feedback figured prominently as a method of delivery and a means of assessment, while attitudes of medical professionals, students and of society in general were seen as barriers.
Conclusions
Medical students may be more open to leadership and management education than thought hitherto. These findings offer insights into how students view possible developments in leadership and management education and stress the importance of developing broad perspectives and clinical relevance in this context.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005353
PMCID: PMC4078777  PMID: 24965917
Medical Education & Training; Qualitative Research
9.  Formation of medical student professional identity: categorizing lapses of professionalism, and the learning environment 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:139.
Background
Acquiring the values of medical professionalism has become a critical issue in medical education. The purpose of this study was to identify lapses in professionalism witnessed by medical students during their four year MD curriculum, and to categorize, from the students’ perspective, who was responsible and the settings in which these occurred.
Methods
An electronic survey, developed by faculty and medical students, was sent to all students with two email reminders. It included quantitative responses and some open-ended opportunities for comments. All analyses were performed with SAS version 9.1.
Results
The response rate was 45.6% (255 of 559 students) for all four years of the medical school curriculum. Thirty six percent of students had witnessed or been part of an exemplary demonstration of professionalism; 64% responded that they had witnessed a lapse of professionalism. At the pre-clerkship level, the most frequent lapses involved students: arrogance (42.2%), impairment (24.2%), followed by cultural or religious insensitivity (20.5%). At the clerkship level of training, where students are exposed to real clinical situations, the lapses involved primarily faculty (including preceptor and clinician) or other staff; these included arrogance (55.3%), breach of confidentiality (28.3%), and cultural or religious insensitivity (26.6%); impairment involved mostly students (25.5%). These findings are analyzed from the perspective of role modeling by faculty and in the context of the learning environment.
Conclusions
Medical students witnessed a lapse of professionalism involving both fellow students as well as faculty and administrative staff, in several domains. Results from this study emphasize the importance of role modeling and the need for faculty development, to improve the learning environment. This study adds to the limited emerging literature on the forces that influence medical student professional identity formation.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-139
PMCID: PMC4102062  PMID: 25004924
Professional identity formation; Professionalism lapse; Learning environment; Student survey; Role modeling
10.  Association of Medical Students' Reports of Interactions with the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries and Medical School Policies and Characteristics: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(10):e1001743.
Aaron Kesselheim and colleagues compared US medical students' survey responses regarding pharmaceutical company interactions with the schools' AMSA PharmFree scorecard and Institute on Medicine as a Profession's (IMAP) scores.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Professional societies use metrics to evaluate medical schools' policies regarding interactions of students and faculty with the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. We compared these metrics and determined which US medical schools' industry interaction policies were associated with student behaviors.
Methods and Findings
Using survey responses from a national sample of 1,610 US medical students, we compared their reported industry interactions with their schools' American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard and average Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) Conflicts of Interest Policy Database score. We used hierarchical logistic regression models to determine the association between policies and students' gift acceptance, interactions with marketing representatives, and perceived adequacy of faculty–industry separation. We adjusted for year in training, medical school size, and level of US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. We used LASSO regression models to identify specific policies associated with the outcomes. We found that IMAP and AMSA scores had similar median values (1.75 [interquartile range 1.50–2.00] versus 1.77 [1.50–2.18], adjusted to compare scores on the same scale). Scores on AMSA and IMAP shared policy dimensions were not closely correlated (gift policies, r = 0.28, 95% CI 0.11–0.44; marketing representative access policies, r = 0.51, 95% CI 0.36–0.63). Students from schools with the most stringent industry interaction policies were less likely to report receiving gifts (AMSA score, odds ratio [OR]: 0.37, 95% CI 0.19–0.72; IMAP score, OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.19–1.04) and less likely to interact with marketing representatives (AMSA score, OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.15–0.69; IMAP score, OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.14–0.95) than students from schools with the lowest ranked policy scores. The association became nonsignificant when fully adjusted for NIH funding level, whereas adjusting for year of education, size of school, and publicly versus privately funded school did not alter the association. Policies limiting gifts, meals, and speaking bureaus were associated with students reporting having not received gifts and having not interacted with marketing representatives. Policy dimensions reflecting the regulation of industry involvement in educational activities (e.g., continuing medical education, travel compensation, and scholarships) were associated with perceived separation between faculty and industry. The study is limited by potential for recall bias and the cross-sectional nature of the survey, as school curricula and industry interaction policies may have changed since the time of the survey administration and study analysis.
Conclusions
As medical schools review policies regulating medical students' industry interactions, limitations on receipt of gifts and meals and participation of faculty in speaking bureaus should be emphasized, and policy makers should pay greater attention to less research-intensive institutions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Making and selling prescription drugs and medical devices is big business. To promote their products, pharmaceutical and medical device companies build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, by organizing educational meetings and sponsored events, and by giving gifts. Financial relationships begin early in physicians' careers, with companies providing textbooks and other gifts to first-year medical students. In medical school settings, manufacturers may help to inform trainees and physicians about developments in health care, but they also create the potential for harm to patients and health care systems. These interactions may, for example, reduce trainees' and trained physicians' skepticism about potentially misleading promotional claims and may encourage physicians to prescribe new medications, which are often more expensive than similar unbranded (generic) drugs and more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than older drugs. To address these and other concerns about the potential career-long effects of interactions between medical trainees and industry, many teaching hospitals and medical schools have introduced policies to limit such interactions. The development of these policies has been supported by expert professional groups and medical societies, some of which have created scales to evaluate the strength of the implemented industry interaction policies.
Why Was This Study Done?
The impact of policies designed to limit interactions between students and industry on student behavior is unclear, and it is not known which aspects of the policies are most predictive of student behavior. This information is needed to ensure that the policies are working and to identify ways to improve them. Here, the researchers investigate which medical school characteristics and which aspects of industry interaction policies are most predictive of students' reported behaviors and beliefs by comparing information collected in a national survey of US medical students with the strength of their schools' industry interaction policies measured on two scales—the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard and the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) Conflicts of Interest Policy Database.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers compared information about reported gift acceptance, interactions with marketing representatives, and the perceived adequacy of faculty–industry separation collected from 1,610 medical students at 121 US medical schools with AMSA and IMAP scores for the schools evaluated a year earlier. Students at schools with the highest ranked interaction policies based on the AMSA score were 63% less likely to accept gifts as students at the lowest ranked schools. Students at the highest ranked schools based on the IMAP score were about half as likely to accept gifts as students at the lowest ranked schools, although this finding was not statistically significant (it could be a chance finding). Similarly, students at the highest ranked schools were 70% less likely to interact with sales representatives as students at the lowest ranked schools. These associations became statistically nonsignificant after controlling for the amount of research funding each school received from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Policies limiting gifts, meals, and being a part of speaking bureaus (where companies pay speakers to present information about the drugs for dinners and other events) were associated with students' reports of receiving no gifts and of non-interaction with sales representatives. Finally, policies regulating industry involvement in educational activities were associated with the perceived separation between faculty and industry, which was regarded as adequate by most of the students at schools with such policies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that policies designed to limit industry interactions with medical students need to address multiple aspects of these interactions to achieve changes in the behavior and attitudes of trainees, but that policies limiting gifts, meals, and speaking bureaus may be particularly important. These findings also suggest that the level of NIH funding plays an important role in students' self-reported behaviors and their perceptions of industry, possibly because institutions with greater NIH funding have the resources needed to implement effective policies. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by recall bias (students may have reported their experiences inaccurately), and by the possibility that industry interaction policies may have changed in the year that elapsed between policy grading and the student survey. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that limitations on gifts should be emphasized when academic medical centers refine their policies on interactions between medical students and industry and that particular attention should be paid to the design and implementation of policies that regulate industry interactions in institutions with lower levels of NIH funding.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001743.
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice document, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Information about the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Just Medicine campaign (formerly the PharmFree campaign) and about the AMSA Scorecard is available
Information about the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and about its Conflicts of Interest Policy Database is also available
“Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide” is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that medical schools can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion
The US Institute of Medicine's report “Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice” recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The ALOSA Foundation provides evidence-based, non-industry-funded education about treating common conditions and using prescription drugs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001743
PMCID: PMC4196737  PMID: 25314155
11.  ‘Have you seen what is on Facebook?’ The use of social networking software by healthcare professions students 
BMJ Open  2013;3(7):e003013.
Objective
The use of social networking software has become ubiquitous in our society. The aim of this study was to explore the attitudes and experiences of healthcare professional students using Facebook at our school, to determine if there is a need for development of policy to assist students in this area.
Design
A mixed-methods approach was employed, using semistructured interviews to identify themes which were explored using an online survey. A combination of descriptive statistics and thematic analysis was used for analysis.
Setting
Healthcare professions education programmes at a large Canadian university.
Participants
Students of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, dentistry, dental hygiene and medical laboratory Science were invited to participate. 14 participants were interviewed, and 682 participants responded to an online survey; the female:male balance was 3 : 1.
Results
14 interviews were analysed in-depth, and 682 students responded to the survey (17% response rate). 93% reported current Facebook use. Themes identified included patterns of use and attitudes to friendship, attitudes to online privacy, breaches of professional behaviour on Facebook and attitudes to guidelines relating to Facebook use. A majority considered posting of the following material unprofessional: use of alcohol/drugs, crime, obscenity/nudity/sexual content, patient/client information, criticism of others. 44% reported seeing such material posted by a colleague, and 27% reported posting such material themselves. A majority of participants agreed that guidelines for Facebook use would be beneficial.
Conclusions
Social networking software use, specifically Facebook use, was widespread among healthcare students at our school who responded to our survey. Our results highlight some of the challenges which can accompany the use of this new technology and offer potential insights to help understand the pedagogy and practices of Facebook use in this population, and to help students navigate the dilemmas associated with becoming 21st century healthcare professionals.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003013
PMCID: PMC3731743  PMID: 23883886
12.  Do students learn to be more conscientious at medical school? 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:54.
Background
Professionalism in medical students is not only difficult to define but difficult to teach and measure. As negative behaviour in medical students is associated with post-graduate disciplinary action it would be useful to have a model whereby unprofessional behaviour at the undergraduate level can easily be identified to permit appropriate intervention. We have previously developed a scalar measure of conscientiousness, the Conscientiousness Index (CI), which positively correlates to estimates of professional behaviour in undergraduate medical students. By comparing CI points awarded in year 1 and year 2 of study we were able to use the CI model to determine whether teaching and clinical exposure had any effect on students’ conscientiousness.
Methods
CI points were collected by administrative staff from 3 successive cohorts of students in years 1 and 2 of study. Points were awarded to students for activities such as submission of immunisation status and criminal record checks, submission of summative assignments by a specified date and attendance at compulsory teaching sessions. CI points were then converted to a percentage of maximal possible scores (CI %) to permit direct comparison between years 1 and 2 of study.
Results
CI % scores were generally high with each year of study for each cohort showing negatively skewed normal distributions with peaks > 89%. There was a high degree of correlation of CI % scores between year 1 and year 2 of study for each cohort alone and when cohort data was combined. When the change in CI % from year 1 to year 2 for all students was compared there was no significant difference in conscientiousness observed.
Conclusions
We have provided evidence that use of a CI model in undergraduate medical students provides a reliable measure of conscientiousness that is easy to implement. Importantly this study shows that measurement of conscientiousness by the CI model in medical students does not change between years 1 and 2 study suggesting that it is a stable characteristic and not modified by teaching and clinical exposure.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-54
PMCID: PMC3434045  PMID: 22784434
13.  Attitudes of Pakistani and Pakistani heritage medical students regarding professionalism at a medical college in Karachi, Pakistan 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:150.
Background
An increased interest in professionalism has been reported in the field of medical education due to concerns regarding deterioration of humanism and professional values in the teaching and practice of medicine. The primary aim of this study was to assess attitudes of Pakistani and Pakistani heritage students at a medical college in Pakistan about important elements of professionalism that an ideal medical doctor should possess. A further objective of the study was to determine students’ preferred ways of learning professionalism.
Methods
A written survey was distributed to undergraduate medical students at a public sector medical college at Karachi, Pakistan in 2011. Using the Penn State College of Medicine (PSCOM) Professionalism Questionnaire, attitudes of medical students of semester 1, 5, and 8 regarding professionalism were assessed anonymously.
Results
The mean age of the students was 21.11 ± 2.72 years. Forty-three percent of the respondents were male. Forty percent of the students held Pakistani citizenship. Thirty-five percent students were US citizens with Pakistani parents and twenty-five percent were Pakistani heritage students that had dual citizenships. No significant differences in the elements of professionalism (Accountability, Altruism, Duty, Excellence, Honesty & Integrity and Respect) mean scores or in the overall mean score of professionalism among the various classes were found. The total overall Cronbach alpha value for all elements of the professionalism in the selected classes was above 0.9. The most preferred methods for learning professionalism were role modeling by faculty, case based scenarios and role plays.
Conclusion
The students rated all the attributes of professionalism as important and there was no difference across the study years. The overall internal consistency of each element of professionalism was high in different classes. Faculty role models, case based scenarios and role plays may be used to teach professionalism. As a great majority of students were having a Pakistani heritage rather than complete Pakistani born and bred background, hence findings of the survey may not be taken as representative of typical Pakistani medical students.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-150
PMCID: PMC3995519  PMID: 24628768
Professionalism; Attributes; Medical education; Undergraduate medical students; Pakistan
14.  Can personal qualities of medical students predict in-course examination success and professional behaviour? An exploratory prospective cohort study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:69.
Background
Over two-thirds of UK medical schools are augmenting their selection procedures for medical students by using the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT), which employs tests of cognitive and non-cognitive personal qualities, but clear evidence of the tests’ predictive validity is lacking. This study explores whether academic performance and professional behaviours that are important in a health professional context can be predicted by these measures, when taken before or very early in the medical course.
Methods
This prospective cohort study follows the progress of the entire student cohort who entered Hull York Medical School in September 2007, having taken the UKCAT cognitive tests in 2006 and the non-cognitive tests a year later. This paper reports on the students’ first and second academic years of study. The main outcome measures were regular, repeated tutor assessment of individual students’ interpersonal skills and professional behaviour, and annual examination performance in the three domains of recall and application of knowledge, evaluation of data, and communication and practical clinical skills. The relationships between non-cognitive test scores, cognitive test scores, tutor assessments and examination results were explored using the Pearson product–moment correlations for each group of data; the data for students obtaining the top and bottom 20% of the summative examination results were compared using Analysis of Variance.
Results
Personal qualities measured by non-cognitive tests showed a number of statistically significant relationships with ratings of behaviour made by tutors, with performance in each year’s objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), and with themed written summative examination marks in each year. Cognitive ability scores were also significantly related to each year’s examination results, but seldom to professional behaviours. The top 20% of examination achievers could be differentiated from the bottom 20% on both non-cognitive and cognitive measures.
Conclusions
This study shows numerous significant relationships between both cognitive and non-cognitive test scores, academic examination scores and indicators of professional behaviours in medical students. This suggests that measurement of non-cognitive personal qualities in applicants to medical school could make a useful contribution to selection and admission decisions. Further research is required in larger representative groups, and with more refined predictor measures and behavioural assessment methods, to establish beyond doubt the incremental validity of such measures over conventional cognitive assessments.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-69
PMCID: PMC3473297  PMID: 22873571
15.  ‘A world of difference’: a qualitative study of medical students’ views on professionalism and the ‘good doctor’ 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:77.
Background
The importance of professional behaviour has been emphasized in medical school curricula. However, the lack of consensus on what constitutes professionalism poses a challenge to medical educators, who often resort to a negative model of assessment based on the identification of unacceptable behaviour. This paper presents results from a study exploring medical students’ views on professionalism, and reports on students’ constructs of the ‘good’ and the ‘professional’ doctor.
Methods
Data for this qualitative study were collected through focus groups conducted with medical students from one Western Australian university over a period of four years. Students were recruited through unit coordinators and invited to participate in a focus group. De-identified socio-demographic data were obtained through a brief questionnaire. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed and subjected to inductive thematic analysis.
Results
A total of 49 medical students took part in 13 focus groups. Differences between students’ understandings of the ‘good’ and ‘professional’ doctor were observed. Being competent, a good communicator and a good teacher were the main characteristics of the ‘good’ doctor. Professionalism was strongly associated with the adoption of a professional persona; following a code of practice and professional guidelines, and treating others with respect were also associated with the ‘professional’ doctor.
Conclusions
Students felt more connected to the notion of the ‘good’ doctor, and perceived professionalism as an external and imposed construct. When both constructs were seen as acting in opposition, students tended to forgo professionalism in favour of becoming a ‘good’ doctor.
Results suggest that the teaching of professionalism should incorporate more formal reflection on the complexities of medical practice, allowing students and educators to openly explore and articulate any perceived tensions between what is formally taught and what is being observed in clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-77
PMCID: PMC3992127  PMID: 24725303
Professionalism; Medical students’ views; Good doctor; Qualitative study
16.  Advanced medical students’ experiences and views on professionalism at Kuwait University 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:150.
Background
Professionalism is a core competency in the medical profession worldwide. Numerous studies investigate how this competency is taught and learned. However, there are few reports on the students’ views and experiences with professionalism especially in the Arab world. Our aim was to explore the experiences and views of Kuwait final-year medical students on professionalism.
Methods
This was a questionnaire study of final-year medical students at Kuwait University (n = 95). Open- and close-ended questions were used to determine the students’ experiences and views on: definition, teaching, learning, and assessment of professionalism.
Results
Eighty-five of the students completed the questionnaire (89.5%). A total of 252 attributes defining professionalism were listed by our respondents. The majority (98.0%) of these attributes were categorized under the CanMEDS theme describing professionalism as commitment to patients, profession, and society through ethical practice. The most helpful methods in learning about professionalism for the students were contact with positive role models, patients and families, and with their own families, relatives and peers. The students’ rating of the quality and quantity of teaching professionalism in the institution was quite variable. Despite this, 68.2% of the students felt very or somewhat comfortable explaining the meaning of medical professionalism to junior medical students. Almost half of the students felt that their education had always or sometimes helped them deal with professionally-challenging situations. Majority (77.6%) of the students thought that their academic assessments should include assessment of professionalism and should be used as a selection criterion in their future academic careers (62.3%). Most of the students discussed and sought advice regarding professionally-challenging situations from their fellow medical students and colleagues. Seventy-five (88.2%) students did not know which organizational body in the institution deals with matters pertaining to medical professionalism.
Conclusion
This study highlights the influence of the curriculum, the hidden curriculum, and culture on medical students’ perception of professionalism. Medical educators should take in account such influences when teaching and assessing professionalism. Future research should aim at creating a framework of competencies that addresses professionalism in a context suitable for the Arabian culture.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-150
PMCID: PMC4118198  PMID: 25056201
Professionalism; Undergraduate; Curriculum
17.  An exploratory study of the potential learning benefits for medical students in collaborative drawing: creativity, reflection and ‘critical looking’ 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:86.
Background
Building on a series of higher educational arts/medicine initiatives, an interdisciplinary drawing module themed on the human body was developed for both year 3 Craft students and year 3 Medicine degree students. This became the subject of a research project exploring how the collaborative approach to drawing adopted on this module impacted on the students’ learning. In this article, emphasis is given to issues thought to have most potential relevance to medical education.
Methods
Using an ethnographic research design, the methods adopted were: direct observation of all aspects of the module sessions, audio and video recordings and photographs of the sessions, the incorporation of a semi-structured discussion at the end of each session, and anonymous student questionnaires.
Results
A number of key themes emerged. The complex, phased and multi-sensory nature of the ‘critical looking’ skills developed through the drawing exercises was seen as of potential value in medical education, being proposed as analogous to processes involved in clinical examination and diagnosis. The experience of interdisciplinary collaborative drawing was significant to the students as a creative, participatory and responsive form of learning. The emphasis on the physical experience of drawing and the thematic use of the human body as drawing subject led to reflective discussions about bodily knowledge and understanding. There were indications that students had a meta-cognitive awareness of the learning shifts that had occurred and the sessions provoked constructive self-reflective explorations of pre-professional identity.
Conclusions
This preliminary study suggests, through the themes identified, that there may be potential learning outcomes for medical students in this model of interdisciplinary collaborative drawing of the human body. Further research is needed to explore their applicability and value to medical education. There is a need to explore in more depth the beliefs, motivations and learning styles of medical students opting for the module, the significance and weighting of different learning and teaching elements in the module and the impact of the learning on medical students in the immediate post-module phase.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-86
PMCID: PMC3687563  PMID: 23773830
Creativity; Drawing; Self-reflection; Interdisciplinarity; Collaboration
18.  Medical professionalism in the formal curriculum: 5th year medical students’ experiences 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):259.
Background
The standards and outcomes outlined in the General Medical Council’s publication ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’ include proposals that medical professionalism be included in undergraduate curricula. Learning the values and attitudes necessary to become a ‘doctor as a professional’ has traditionally been left largely to the informal and hidden curricula. There remains no consensus or confirmed evidence upon which to base best practice for teaching in this area. In 2010, as part of a revision of the fifth year curriculum the University of Bristol Medical School introduced tutorials which focused on students’ achievement of the learning objectives in ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors Outcomes 3: the doctor as a professional’. This study sought to explore the students’ experiences of these tutorials in order to develop the evidence base further.
Methods
Sixteen medical students participated in three focus-group interviews exploring their experiences of medical professionalism tutorials. A course evaluation questionnaire to all fifth year students also provided data. Data were analysed using the principles of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Results
Four main themes were identified: students’ aversion to ‘ticking-boxes’, lack of engagement by the students, lack of engagement by the tutors and students’ views on how medical professionalism should be taught.
Conclusions
A curriculum innovation which placed the achievement of medical professionalism in the formal curriculum was not unanimously embraced by students or faculty. Further consideration of the students’ aversion to ‘ticking-boxes’ is warranted. With continued demand for increased accountability and transparency in medical education, detailed check-lists of specific learning objectives will continue to feature as a means by which medical schools and learners demonstrate attainment. Students’ experiences and acceptance of these check-lists deserves attention in order to inform teaching and learning in this area. Learner and faculty ‘buy in’ are imperative to the success of curriculum change and vital if the students are to attain the intended learning objectives. Effective faculty development and student induction programmes could be employed to facilitate engagement by both parties.
doi:10.1186/s12909-014-0259-0
PMCID: PMC4261576  PMID: 25433816
Professionalism; Curriculum development; Faculty development; Formal curriculum; Ticking-boxes
19.  A Professional Development Course for the Clinical Clerkships: Developing a Student-Centered Curriculum 
Introduction
Although professional development is addressed throughout the medical school curriculum, it is particularly salient to third-year students as they become integral members of health care teams.
Aim
We present a professional development curriculum for third-year medical students.
Setting
Urban medical school.
Program Description
In 2005, our curriculum consisted of 3 large group panels, each followed by a small group, occurring after the first, third, and last clerkship. Before each small group, students prepared critical incident reports, which led to focused group reflection. The individual topics were, respectively: (1) transition to clerkship learning; (2) challenges to professional behavior; and (3) medical errors. In 2006, based on student feedback, we piloted a revised student-centered panel on professionalism that was based entirely on themes from students’ critical incident reports.
Program Evaluation
Students rated the curriculum well overall. In 2005–2006, the small groups ranged from 3.95 to 3.98 (SD 0.88) on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = poor, 5 = excellent) and the panels ranged from 3.54 to 4.41 (SD 0.9). The pilot panel in 2006 was rated 4.38 (SD 0.80). The most common professionalism themes generated from 185 critical incident reports were communication, compassionate patient care, accountability, and team collaboration.
Discussion
A professional development curriculum, consisting of panels, small groups, and critical incident reports, can promote reflection among third-year medical students.
doi:10.1007/s11606-008-0527-y
PMCID: PMC2517931  PMID: 18612725
medical school curriculum; third-year medical students; professional development; evaluation
20.  Medical students-as-teachers: a systematic review of peer-assisted teaching during medical school 
Introduction
International interest in peer-teaching and peer-assisted learning (PAL) during undergraduate medical programs has grown in recent years, reflected both in literature and in practice. There, remains however, a distinct lack of objective clarity and consensus on the true effectiveness of peer-teaching and its short- and long-term impacts on learning outcomes and clinical practice.
Objective
To summarize and critically appraise evidence presented on peer-teaching effectiveness and its impact on objective learning outcomes of medical students.
Method
A literature search was conducted in four electronic databases. Titles and abstracts were screened and selection was based on strict eligibility criteria after examining full-texts. Two reviewers used a standard review and analysis framework to independently extract data from each study. Discrepancies in opinions were resolved by discussion in consultation with other reviewers. Adapted models of “Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Learning” were used to grade the impact size of study outcomes.
Results
From 127 potential titles, 41 were obtained as full-texts, and 19 selected after close examination and group deliberation. Fifteen studies focused on student-learner outcomes and four on student-teacher learning outcomes. Ten studies utilized randomized allocation and the majority of study participants were self-selected volunteers. Written examinations and observed clinical evaluations were common study outcome assessments. Eleven studies provided student-teachers with formal teacher training. Overall, results suggest that peer-teaching, in highly selective contexts, achieves short-term learner outcomes that are comparable with those produced by faculty-based teaching. Furthermore, peer-teaching has beneficial effects on student-teacher learning outcomes.
Conclusions
Peer-teaching in undergraduate medical programs is comparable to conventional teaching when utilized in selected contexts. There is evidence to suggest that participating student-teachers benefit academically and professionally. Long-term effects of peer-teaching during medical school remain poorly understood and future research should aim to address this.
doi:10.2147/AMEP.S14383
PMCID: PMC3661256  PMID: 23745087
peer-teaching; peer-assisted learning; near-peer teaching; medical student; medical school
21.  Know When to Rock the Boat: How Faculty Rationalize Students’ Behaviors 
BACKGROUND
When faculty evaluate medical students’ professionalism, they make judgments based on the observation of behaviors. However, we lack an understanding of why they feel certain behaviors are appropriate (or not).
OBJECTIVE
To explore faculty’s reasoning around potential student behaviors in professionally challenging situations.
DESIGN
Guided interviews with faculty who were asked to respond to 5 videotaped scenarios depicting students in professionally challenging situations.
SUBJECTS
Purposive sample of 30 attending Internists and surgeons.
APPROACH
Transcripts were analyzed using modified grounded theory to search for emerging themes and to attempt to validate a previous framework based on student responses.
RESULTS
Faculty’s reasoning around behaviors were similar to students’ and were categorized by three general themes: Imperatives (e.g., take care of patients, behave honestly, know your place), Affect (factors relating to a student’s “gut instincts” or personality), or Implications (for the student, patients, and others). Several new themes emerged, including “know when to fudge the truth”, “do what you’re told”, and “know when to step up to the plate”. These new codes, along with a near ubiquitous reference to Affect, suggests that faculty feel students are responsible for knowing when (and how) to bend the rules. Potential reasons for this are discussed.
CONCLUSIONS
Although faculty are aware of the conflicts students face when encountering professional challenges, their reliance on students to “just know” what to do reflects the underlying complexity and ambiguity that surrounds decision making in these situations. To fully understand professional decision-making, we must acknowledge and address these issues from both students’ and faculty’s points of view.
doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0401-3
PMCID: PMC2517907  PMID: 18612721
professionalism; medical education; undergraduate education
22.  Developing health science students into integrated health professionals: a practical tool for learning 
Background
An integrated sense of professionalism enables health professionals to draw on relevant knowledge in context and to apply a set of professional responsibilities and ethical principles in the midst of changing work environments [1,2]. Inculcating professionalism is therefore a critical goal of health professional education. Two multi-professional courses for first year Health Science students at the University of Cape Town, South Africa aim to lay the foundation for becoming an integrated health professional [3]. In these courses a diagram depicting the domains of the integrated health professional is used to focus the content of small group experiential exercises towards an appreciation of professionalism. The diagram serves as an organising framework for conceptualising an emerging professional identity and for directing learning towards the domains of 'self as professional' [4,5].
Objective
This paper describes how a diagrammatic representation of the core elements of an integrated health professional is used as a template for framing course content and for organising student learning. Based on the assumption that all health care professionals should be knowledgeable, empathic and reflective, the diagram provides students and educators with a visual tool for investigating the subjective and objective dimensions of professionalism. The use of the diagram as an integrating point of reference for individual and small group learning is described and substantiated with relevant literature.
Conclusion
The authors have applied the diagram with positive impact for the past six years with students and educators reporting that "it just makes sense". The article includes plans for formal evaluation. Evaluation to date is based on preliminary, informal feedback on the value of the diagram as a tool for capturing the domains of professionalism at an early stage in the undergraduate education of health professional students.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-45
PMCID: PMC2186307  PMID: 18005420
23.  Why peer assessment helps to improve clinical performance in undergraduate physical therapy education: a mixed methods design 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:117.
Background
Peer Assessment (PA) in health professions education encourages students to develop a critical attitude towards their own and their peers’ performance. We designed a PA task to assess students’ clinical skills (including reasoning, communication, physical examination and treatment skills) in a role-play that simulated physical therapy (PT) practice. Students alternately performed in the role of PT, assessor, and patient. Oral face-to-face feedback was provided as well as written feedback and scores.
This study aims to explore the impact of PA on the improvement of clinical performance of undergraduate PT students.
Methods
The PA task was analyzed and decomposed into task elements. A qualitative approach was used to explore students’ perceptions of the task and the task elements. Semi-structured interviews with second year students were conducted to explore the perceived impact of these task elements on performance improvement. Students were asked to select the elements perceived valuable, to rank them from highest to lowest learning value, and to motivate their choices. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed, using a phenomenographical approach and following template analysis guidelines. A quantitative approach was used to describe the ranking results.
Results
Quantitative analyses showed that the perceived impact on learning varied widely. Performing the clinical task in the PT role, was assigned to the first place (1), followed by receiving expert feedback (2), and observing peer performance (3). Receiving peer feedback was not perceived the most powerful task element.
Qualitative analyses resulted in three emerging themes: pre-performance, true-performance, and post-performance triggers for improvement. Each theme contained three categories: learning activities, outcomes, and conditions for learning.
Intended learning activities were reported, such as transferring prior learning to a new application context and unintended learning activities, such as modelling a peer’s performance. Outcomes related to increased self-confidence, insight in performance standards and awareness of improvement areas. Conditions for learning referred to the quality of peer feedback.
Conclusions
PA may be a powerful tool to improve clinical performance, although peer feedback is not perceived the most powerful element. Peer assessors in undergraduate PT education use idiosyncratic strategies to assess their peers’ performance.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-117
PMCID: PMC4064265  PMID: 24928420
Peer assessment; Peer feedback; Self-assessment; Clinical performance
24.  Between Two Worlds: A Multi-Institutional Qualitative Analysis of Students’ Reflections on Joining the Medical Profession 
BACKGROUND
Recent changes in healthcare system and training mandates have altered the clinical learning environment. We incorporated reflective writing into Internal Medicine clerkships (IMcs) in multiple institutions so students could consider the impact of clerkship experiences on their personal and professional development. We analyzed student reflections to inform curricula and support learning.
METHODS
We qualitatively analyzed the reflections of students at 3 US medical schools during IMcs (N = 292) to identify themes, tone, and reflective quality using an iterative approach. Chi-square tests assessed differences between these factors and across institutions.
FINDINGS
Students openly described powerful experiences. Major themes focused on 4 categories: personal issues (PI), professional development (PD), relational issues (RI), and medical care (MC). Each major theme was represented at each institution, although with significant variability between institutions in many of the subcategories including student role (PI), development-as-a-physician (PD), professionalism (PD) (p < 0.001). Students used positive tones to describe student role, development-as-a-physician and physician–patient relationship (PD) (p < 0.01–0.001), and negative tones for quality and safety (MC) (p < 0.05). Only 4% of writings coded as professionalism had a positive tone. Students employed a “reporting” voice in writing about clinical problem-solving, healthcare systems, and quality/safety (MC).
DISCUSSION
Reflection is considered important to professional development. Our analysis suggests that students at 3 institutions reflect on similar experiences. Theme variability across institutions implies curricula should be tailored to local culture. Reflective quality analysis suggests students are better equipped to reflect on certain experiences over others, which may impact learning. Student reflections can function as a mirror for our organizations, offer institutional feedback for support and improvement, and inform curricula for learners and faculty.
doi:10.1007/s11606-008-0508-1
PMCID: PMC2517932  PMID: 18612724
medical education; clinical learning environment; qualitative analysis; students’ reflections; physician–patient relationship
25.  Evidence based practice in clinical physiotherapy education: a qualitative interpretive description 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:52.
Background
Health care undergraduate students are expected to practice evidence-based after they graduate. Previous research indicates that students face several problems with transferring evidence-based practice to real patient situations. Few studies have explored reasons for this. The aim of this study was to explore beliefs, experiences and attitudes related to third year students’ use of evidence-based practice in clinical physiotherapy education among students, clinical instructors and visiting teachers.
Methods
In total, six focus group interviews were conducted: three with 16 students, two with nine clinical instructors and one with four visiting teachers. In addition, one individual interview and one interview in a pair were conducted with clinical instructors. Interviewing three different participant-categories ensured comparative analysis and enabled us to exploit differences in perspectives and interactions. Interpretive description guided this process.
Results
Four integrative themes emerged from the analysis: “attempt to apply evidence-based practice”, “novices in clinical practice”, “prioritize practice experience over evidence-based practice” and “lack role models in evidence-based practice”. Students tried to search for research evidence and to apply this knowledge during clinical placements; a behaviour that indicated a positive attitude towards evidence-based practice. At the same time, students were novices and required basic background information more than research information. As novices they tended to lean on their clinical instructors, and were more eager to gain practical experience than practicing evidence-based; a behaviour that clinical instructors and visiting teachers often supported. Students noticed a lack of an EBP culture. Both students and clinical instructors perceived a need for role models in evidence-based practice.
Conclusions
Clinical instructors are in a position to influence students during clinical education, and thus, important potential role models in evidence-based practice. Actions from academic and clinical settings are needed to improve competence in evidence-based practice among clinical instructors, and future research is needed to investigate the effect of such efforts on students’ behaviour.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-52
PMCID: PMC3648409  PMID: 23578211
Evidence-based practice; Evidence-based medicine; Evidence-based physiotherapy; Implementation; Clinical education; Clinical placements; Clinical instruction; Clinical supervision; Qualitative research; Focus group interviews

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