PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (1209701)

Clipboard (0)
None

Related Articles

1.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Conclusions
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
2.  Nesting doctoral students in collaborative North–South partnerships for health systems research 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.24070.
Background
The European Union (EU) supports North–South Partnerships and collaborative research projects through its Framework Programmes and Horizon 2020. There is limited research on how such projects can be harnessed to provide a structured platform for doctoral level studies as a way of strengthening health system research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Objective
The aim of this study was to explore the challenges of, and facilitating factors for, ‘nesting’ doctoral students in North–South collaborative research projects. The term nesting refers to the embedding of the processes of recruiting, supervising, and coordinating doctoral students in the overall research plan and processes.
Design
This cross-sectional qualitative study was undertaken by the EU-funded QUALMAT Project. A questionnaire was implemented with doctoral students, supervisors, and country principal investigators (PIs), and content analysis was undertaken.
Results
Completed questionnaires were received from nine doctoral students, six supervisors, and three country PIs (86% responses rate). The doctoral students from SSA described high expectations about the input they would receive (administrative support, equipment, training, supervision). This contrasted with the expectations of the supervisors for proactivity and self-management on the part of the students. The rationale for candidate selection, and understandings of the purpose of the doctoral students in the project were areas of considerable divergence. There were some challenges associated with the use of the country PIs as co-supervisors. Doctoral student progress was at times impeded by delays in the release of funding instalments from the EU. The paper provides a checklist of essential requirements and a set of recommendations for effective nesting of doctoral students in joint North–South projects.
Conclusion
There are considerable challenges to the effective nesting of doctoral students within major collaborative research projects. However, ways can be found to overcome them. The nesting process ultimately helped the institutions involved in this example to take better advantage of the opportunities that collaborative projects offer to foster North–South partnerships as a contribution to the strengthening of local research capacity.
doi:10.3402/gha.v7.24070
PMCID: PMC4101456  PMID: 25030216
collaborative project; doctoral students; health systems research capacity; North–South Partnership
3.  Doctoral training in Uganda: evaluation of mentoring best practices at Makerere university college of health sciences 
Background
Good mentoring is a key variable for determining success in completing a doctoral program. We identified prevailing mentoring practices among doctoral students and their mentors, identified common challenges facing doctoral training, and proposed some solutions to enhance the quality of the doctoral training experience for both candidates and mentors at Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS).
Methods
This cross-sectional qualitative evaluation was part of the monitoring and evaluation program for doctoral training. All doctoral students and their mentors were invited for a half-day workshop through the MakCHS mailing list. Prevailing doctoral supervision and mentoring guidelines were summarised in a one-hour presentation. Participants were split into two homogenous students’ (mentees’) and mentors’ groups to discuss specific issues using a focus group discussion (FGD) guide, that highlighted four main themes in regard to the doctoral training experience; what was going well, what was not going well, proposed solutions to current challenges and perceived high priority areas for improvement. The two groups came together again and the note-takers from each group presented their data and discussions were recorded by a note-taker.
Results
Twelve out of 36 invited mentors (33%) and 22 out of 40 invited mentees (55%) attended the workshop. Mentors and mentees noted increasing numbers of doctoral students and mentors, which provided opportunities for peer mentorship. Delays in procurement and research regulatory processes subsequently delayed students’ projects. Similarly, mentees mentioned challenges of limited; 1) infrastructure and mentors to support basic science research projects, 2) physical office space for doctoral students and their mentors, 3) skills in budgeting and finance management and 4) communication skills including conflict resolution. As solutions, the team proposed skills’ training, induction courses for doctoral students-mentor teams, and a Frequently Asked Questions’ document, to better inform mentors’, mentees’ expectations and experiences.
Conclusion
Systemic and infrastructural limitations affect the quality of the doctoral training experience at MaKCHS. Clinical and biomedical research infrastructure, in addition to training in research regulatory processes, procurement and finance management, communication skills and information technology, were highlighted as high priority areas for strategic interventions to improve mentoring within doctoral training of clinician scientists.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-9
PMCID: PMC3897930  PMID: 24410984
Mentorship; Doctoral training; Supervision; Capacity building; Health care; Low and middle income countries; Uganda
4.  Task Shifting for Scale-up of HIV Care: Evaluation of Nurse-Centered Antiretroviral Treatment at Rural Health Centers in Rwanda 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000163.
Fabienne Shumbusho and colleagues evaluate a task-shifting model of nurse-centered antiretroviral treatment prescribing in rural primary health centers in Rwanda and find that nurses can effectively and safely prescribe ART when given adequate training, mentoring, and support.
Background
The shortage of human resources for health, and in particular physicians, is one of the major barriers to achieve universal access to HIV care and treatment. In September 2005, a pilot program of nurse-centered antiretroviral treatment (ART) prescription was launched in three rural primary health centers in Rwanda. We retrospectively evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of this task-shifting model using descriptive data.
Methods and Findings
Medical records of 1,076 patients enrolled in HIV care and treatment services from September 2005 to March 2008 were reviewed to assess: (i) compliance with national guidelines for ART eligibility and prescription, and patient monitoring and (ii) key outcomes, such as retention, body weight, and CD4 cell count change at 6, 12, 18, and 24 mo after ART initiation. Of these, no ineligible patients were started on ART and only one patient received an inappropriate ART prescription. Of the 435 patients who initiated ART, the vast majority had adherence and side effects assessed at each clinic visit (89% and 84%, respectively). By March 2008, 390 (90%) patients were alive on ART, 29 (7%) had died, one (<1%) was lost to follow-up, and none had stopped treatment. Patient retention was about 92% by 12 mo and 91% by 24 mo. Depending on initial stage of disease, mean CD4 cell count increased between 97 and 128 cells/µl in the first 6 mo after treatment initiation and between 79 and 129 cells/µl from 6 to 24 mo of treatment. Mean weight increased significantly in the first 6 mo, between 1.8 and 4.3 kg, with no significant increases from 6 to 24 mo.
Conclusions
Patient outcomes in our pilot program compared favorably with other ART cohorts in sub-Saharan Africa and with those from a recent evaluation of the national ART program in Rwanda. These findings suggest that nurses can effectively and safely prescribe ART when given adequate training, mentoring, and support.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a serious health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. The virus attacks white blood cells that protect against infection, most commonly a type of white blood cell called CD4. When a person has been infected with HIV for a long time, the number of CD4 cells they have goes down, resulting in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), in which the person's immune system no longer functions effectively.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the disease into four stages as it progresses, according to symptoms including weight loss and so-called opportunistic infections. These are known as clinical stage I, II, III, or IV but were revised and renamed 1, 2, 3, and 4 in September 2005. HIV infection and AIDS cannot be cured but they can be managed with antiretroviral treatment (ART). The WHO currently recommends that ART is begun when the CD4 count falls below 350.
Rwanda is a country situated in the central Africa with a population of around 9 million inhabitants; over 3% of the rural population and 7% of the urban population are infected with HIV. In 2007, the WHO estimated that 220,000 Rwandan children had lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Why Was This Study Done?
The WHO estimates that 9.7 million people with HIV in low- to middle-income countries need ART but at the end of 2007, only 30% of these, including in Rwanda, had access to treatment. In many low-income countries a major factor in this is a lack of doctors. Rwanda, for example, has one doctor per 50,000 inhabitants and one nurse per 3,900 inhabitants.
This situation has led the WHO to recommend “task shifting,” i.e., that the task of prescribing ART should be shifted from doctors to nurses so that more patients can be treated. This type of reorganization is well studied in high-income countries, but the researchers wanted to help develop a system for treating AIDS that would be effective and timely in a predominantly rural, low-income setting such as Rwanda.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In conjunction with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, the researchers developed and piloted a task-shifting program, in which one nurse in each of three rural Rwandan primary health centers (PHCs) was trained to examine HIV patients and prescribe ART in simple cases. Nurses had to complete more than 50 consultations observed by the doctor before being permitted to consult patients independently. More complex cases were referred to a doctor. The authors developed standard checklists, instructions, and evaluation forms to guide nurses and the doctors who supervised them once a week.
The authors evaluated the pilot program by reviewing the records of 1,076 patients who enrolled on it between September 2005 and March 2008. They looked to see whether the nurses had followed guidelines and monitored the patients correctly. They also considered health outcomes for the patients, such as their death rate, their body weight, their CD4 cell count, and whether they maintained contact with caregivers.
They found that by March 2008, 451 patients had been eligible for ART. 435 received treatment and none of the patients were prescribed ART when they should not have been. Only one prescription did not follow national guidelines.
At every visit, nurses were supposed to assess whether patients were taking their drugs and to monitor side effects. They did this and maintained records correctly for the vast majority of the 435 patients who were prescribed ART. 390 patients (over 90%) of the 435 prescribed receiving ART continued to take it and maintain contact with the pilot PHC's program. 29 patients died. Only one was lost to follow up and the others transferred to another ART site. The majority gained weight in the first six months and their CD4 cell counts rose. Outcomes, including death rate, were similar to those treated on the (doctor-led) Rwandan national ART program and other sub-Saharan African national (doctor-led) programs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The study suggests that nurses are able to prescribe ART safely and effectively in a rural sub-Saharan setting, given sufficient training, mentoring, and support. Nurse-led prescribing of ART could mean that timely, appropriate treatment reaches many more HIV patients. It would reduce the burden of HIV care for doctors, freeing their time for other duties, and the study is already being used by the Rwandan Ministry of Health as a basis for plans to adopt a task-shifting strategy for the national ART program.
The study does have some limitations. The pilot program was funded and designed as a health project to deliver ART in rural areas, rather than a research project to compare nurse-led and doctor-led ART programs. There was no group of equivalent patients treated by doctors rather than nurses for direct comparison, although the authors did compare outcomes with those achieved nationally for doctor-led ART. The most promising sites, nurses, and patients were selected for the pilot and careful monitoring may have been an additional motivation for the nurses and doctors taking part. Health professionals in a scaled-up program may not be as committed as those in the pilot, who were carefully monitored. In addition, the nature of the pilot, which lasted for under three years and recruited new patients throughout, meant that patients were followed up for relatively short periods.
The authors also warn that they did not consider in this study the changes task shifting will make to doctors' roles and the skills required of both doctors and nurses. They recommend that task shifting should be implemented as part of a wider investment in health systems, human resources, training, adapted medical records, tools, and protocols.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000163.
PLoS Medicine includes a page collecting together its recent articles on HIV infection and AIDS that includes research articles, perspectives, editorials, and policy forums
SciDev.net provides news, views, and information about science, technology, and the developing world, including a section specific to HIV/AIDs
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a downloadable booklet Task Shifting to Tackle Health Worker Shortages
The WHO offers information on HIV and AIDS (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) as well as health information and fact sheets on individual countries, including on Rwanda
The UNAIDS/WHO working group on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Surveillance gathers and publishes data on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in individual countries, including on Rwanda
AIDS.ORG provides information to help prevent HIV infections and to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS. Factsheets on many aspects of HIV and AIDS are available. It is the official online publisher of AIDS Treatment News
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000163
PMCID: PMC2752160  PMID: 19823569
5.  Rural Clinician Scarcity and Job Preferences of Doctors and Nurses in India: A Discrete Choice Experiment 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82984.
The scarcity of rural doctors has undermined the ability of health systems in low and middle-income countries like India to provide quality services to rural populations. This study examines job preferences of doctors and nurses to inform what works in terms of rural recruitment strategies. Job acceptance of different strategies was compared to identify policy options for increasing the availability of clinical providers in rural areas. In 2010 a Discrete Choice Experiment was conducted in India. The study sample included final year medical and nursing students, and in-service doctors and nurses serving at Primary Health Centers. Eight job attributes were identified and a D-efficient fractional factorial design was used to construct pairs of job choices. Respondent acceptance of job choices was analyzed using multi-level logistic regression. Location mattered; jobs in areas offering urban amenities had a high likelihood of being accepted. Higher salary had small effect on doctor, but large effect on nurse, acceptance of rural jobs. At five times current salary levels, 13% (31%) of medical students (doctors) were willing to accept rural jobs. At half this level, 61% (52%) of nursing students (nurses) accepted a rural job. The strategy of reserving seats for specialist training in exchange for rural service had a large effect on job acceptance among doctors, nurses and nursing students. For doctors and nurses, properly staffed and equipped health facilities, and housing had small effects on job acceptance. Rural upbringing was not associated with rural job acceptance. Incentivizing doctors for rural service is expensive. A broader strategy of substantial salary increases with improved living, working environment, and education incentives is necessary. For both doctors and nurses, the usual strategies of moderate salary increases, good facility infrastructure, and housing will not be effective. Non-physician clinicians like nurse-practitioners offer an affordable alternative for delivering rural health care.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082984
PMCID: PMC3869745  PMID: 24376621
6.  Treatment Outcomes and Cost-Effectiveness of Shifting Management of Stable ART Patients to Nurses in South Africa: An Observational Cohort 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(7):e1001055.
Lawrence Long and colleagues report that “down-referring” stable HIV patients from a doctor-managed, hospital-based ART clinic to a nurse-managed primary health facility provides good health outcomes and cost-effective treatment for patients.
Background
To address human resource and infrastructure shortages, resource-constrained countries are being encouraged to shift HIV care to lesser trained care providers and lower level health care facilities. This study evaluated the cost-effectiveness of down-referring stable antiretroviral therapy (ART) patients from a doctor-managed, hospital-based ART clinic to a nurse-managed primary health care facility in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Methods and Findings
Criteria for down-referral were stable ART (≥11 mo), undetectable viral load within the previous 10 mo, CD4>200 cells/mm3, <5% weight loss over the last three visits, and no opportunistic infections. All patients down-referred from the treatment-initiation site to the down-referral site between 1 February 2008 and 1 January 2009 were compared to a matched sample of patients eligible for down-referral but not down-referred. Outcomes were assigned based on vital and health status 12 mo after down-referral eligibility and the average cost per outcome estimated from patient medical record data.
The down-referral site (n = 712) experienced less death and loss to follow up than the treatment-initiation site (n = 2,136) (1.7% versus 6.2%, relative risk = 0.27, 95% CI 0.15–0.49). The average cost per patient-year for those in care and responding at 12 mo was US$492 for down-referred patients and US$551 for patients remaining at the treatment-initiation site (p<0.0001), a savings of 11%. Down-referral was the cost-effective strategy for eligible patients.
Conclusions
Twelve-month outcomes of stable ART patients who are down-referred to a primary health clinic are as good as, or better than, the outcomes of similar patients who are maintained at a hospital-based ART clinic. The cost of treatment with down-referral is lower across all outcomes and would save 11% for patients who remain in care and respond to treatment. These results suggest that this strategy would increase treatment capacity and conserve resources without compromising patient outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since 1981, and about 33 million people are now infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Because HIV destroys immune system cells, which leaves infected individuals susceptible to other infections, early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected people died within ten years of infection. Then, in 1996, antiretroviral therapy (ART), which can keep HIV in check for many years, became available. For people living in developed countries, HIV infection became a chronic condition, but people in developing countries were not so lucky—ART was prohibitively expensive and so a diagnosis of HIV infection remained a death sentence in many regions of the world. In 2003, this situation was declared a global health emergency, and governments, international agencies, and funding bodies began to implement plans to increase ART coverage in developing countries. As a result, nowadays, more than a third of people in low- and middle-income countries who need ART are receiving it.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, shortages of human resources in developing countries are impeding progress toward universal ART coverage. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where two-thirds of all HIV-positive people live, there are too few doctors to supervise all the ART that is required. Various organizations are therefore encouraging a shift of clinical care responsibilities for people receiving ART from doctors to less highly trained, less expensive, and more numerous members of the clinical workforce. Thus, in South Africa, plans are underway to reduce the role of hospital doctors in ART and to increase the role of primary health clinic nurses. One specific strategy involves “down-referring” patients whose HIV infection is under control (“stable ART patients”) from a doctor-managed, hospital-based ART clinic to a nurse-managed primary health care facility. In this observational study, the researchers investigate the effect of this strategy on treatment outcomes and costs by retrospectively analyzing data collected from a cohort (group) of adult patients initially treated by doctors at the Themba Lethu Clinic in Johannesburg and then down-referred to a nearby primary health clinic where nurses supervised their treatment.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Patients attending the hospital-based ART clinic were invited to transfer to the down-referral site if they had been on ART for at least 11 months and met criteria that indicated that ART was controlling their HIV infection. Each of the 712 stable ART patients who agreed to be down-referred to the primary health clinic was matched to three patients eligible for down-referral but not down-referred (2,136 patients), and clinical outcomes and costs in the patient groups were compared 12 months after down-referral eligibility. At this time point, 1.7% of the down-referred patients had died or had been lost to follow up compared to 6.2% of the patients who continued to receive hospital-based ART. The average cost per patient-year for those in care and responding at 12 months was US$492 for down-referred patients but US$551 for patients remaining at the hospital. Finally, the down-referral site spent US$509 to produce a patient who was in care and responding one year after down-referral on average, whereas the hospital spent US$602 for each responding patient. Thus, the down-referral strategy (nurse-managed care) was more cost-effective than continued hospital treatment (doctor-managed care).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, at least for this pair of study sites, the 12-month outcomes of stable ART patients who were down-referred to a primary health clinic were as good as or better than the outcomes of similar patients who remained at a hospital-based ART clinic. Moreover, the down-referral strategy saved 11% of costs for patients who remained in care and responded to treatment and appeared to be cost-effective, although additional studies are needed to confirm this last finding. Because this is an observational study (that is, patients eligible for down-referral were not randomly assigned to hospital or primary care facility treatment), it is possible that some unknown factor was responsible for the difference in outcomes between the two patient groups. Nevertheless, these results suggest that the down-referral strategy tested in this study could increase ART capacity and conserve resources without compromising patient outcomes in South Africa and possibly in other resource-limited settings.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/journal.pmed.pmed.1001055.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Ford and Mills
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS in Africa and on universal access to AIDS treatment (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to AIDS treatment, including its 2010 progress report (in English, French and Spanish)
Right to Care, a non-profit organization that aims to deliver and support quality clinical services in Southern Africa for the prevention, treatment, and management of HIV, provides information on down-referral
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001055
PMCID: PMC3139666  PMID: 21811402
7.  Physician Awareness of Drug Cost: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(9):e283.
Background
Pharmaceutical costs are the fastest-growing health-care expense in most developed countries. Higher drug costs have been shown to negatively impact patient outcomes. Studies suggest that doctors have a poor understanding of pharmaceutical costs, but the data are variable and there is no consistent pattern in awareness. We designed this systematic review to investigate doctors' knowledge of the relative and absolute costs of medications and to determine the factors that influence awareness.
Methods and Findings
Our search strategy included The Cochrane Library, EconoLit, EMBASE, and MEDLINE as well as reference lists and contact with authors who had published two or more articles on the topic or who had published within 10 y of the commencement of our review. Studies were included if: either doctors, trainees (interns or residents), or medical students were surveyed; there were more than ten survey respondents; cost of pharmaceuticals was estimated; results were expressed quantitatively; there was a clear description of how authors defined “accurate estimates”; and there was a description of how the true cost was determined. Two authors reviewed each article for eligibility and extracted data independently. Cost accuracy outcomes were summarized, but data were not combined in meta-analysis because of extensive heterogeneity. Qualitative data related to physicians and drug costs were also extracted. The final analysis included 24 articles. Cost accuracy was low; 31% of estimates were within 20% or 25% of the true cost, and fewer than 50% were accurate by any definition of cost accuracy. Methodological weaknesses were common, and studies of low methodological quality showed better cost awareness. The most important factor influencing the pattern and accuracy of estimation was the true cost of therapy. High-cost drugs were estimated more accurately than inexpensive ones (74% versus 31%, Chi-square p < 0.001). Doctors consistently overestimated the cost of inexpensive products and underestimated the cost of expensive ones (binomial test, 89/101, p < 0.001). When asked, doctors indicated that they want cost information and feel it would improve their prescribing but that it is not accessible.
Conclusions
Doctors' ignorance of costs, combined with their tendency to underestimate the price of expensive drugs and overestimate the price of inexpensive ones, demonstrate a lack of appreciation of the large difference in cost between inexpensive and expensive drugs. This discrepancy in turn could have profound implications for overall drug expenditures. Much more focus is required in the education of physicians about costs and the access to cost information. Future research should focus on the accessibility and reliability of medical cost information and whether the provision of this information is used by doctors and makes a difference to physician prescribing. Additionally, future work should strive for higher methodological standards to avoid the biases we found in the current literature, including attention to the method of assessing accuracy that allows larger absolute estimation ranges for expensive drugs.
From a review of data from 24 studies, Michael Allan and colleagues conclude that doctors often underestimate the price of expensive drugs and overestimate the price of those that are inexpensive.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Many medicines are extremely expensive, and the cost of buying them is a major (and increasing) proportion of the total cost of health care. Governments and health-care organizations try to find ways of keeping down costs without reducing the effectiveness of the health care they provide, but their efforts to control what is spent on medicines have not been very successful. There are often two or more equally effective drugs available for treating the same condition, and it would obviously help keep costs down if, when a doctor prescribes a medicine, he or she chose the cheapest of the effective drugs available. This choice could result in savings for whoever is paying for the drugs, be it the government, the patient, or a medical insurance organization.
Why Was This Study Done?
Doctors who prescribe drugs cannot be expected to know the exact cost of each drug on the market, but it would he helpful if they had some impression of the cost of a treatment and how the various alternatives compare in price. However, systems deciding how drugs are priced are often very complex. (This is particularly the case in the US.) The researchers wanted to find out how aware doctors are regarding drug costs and the difference between the alternatives. They also wanted to know what factors affected their awareness.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They decided to do a systematic review of all the research already conducted that addressed this issue so that the evidence from all of them could be considered together. In order to do such a review they had to specify precise requirements for the type of study that they would include and then comprehensively search the medical literature for such studies. They found 24 studies that met their requirements. From these studies, they concluded that doctors were usually not accurate when asked to estimate the cost of drugs; doctors came up with estimates that were within 25% of the true cost less than one-third of the time. In particular doctors tended to underestimate the cost of expensive drugs and overestimate the cost of the cheaper alternatives. A further analysis of the studies showed that many doctors said they would appreciate more accurate information on costs to help them choose which drugs to prescribe but that such information was not readily available.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers concluded that their systematic review demonstrates a lack of appreciation by prescribing doctors of the large difference in cost between inexpensive and expensive drugs, and that this finding has serious implications for overall spending on drugs. They call for more education and information to be provided to doctors on the cost of medicines together with better processes to help doctors in making such decisions.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040283.
A brief guide to systematic reviews has been published by the BMJ (British Medical Journal)
The Web site of the Cochrane Collaboration is a more detailed source of information on systematic reviews; in particular there is a newcomers' guide and information for health-care consumers
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, private operating foundation focusing on the major health care issues in the US, has a section on prescription drugs and their costs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040283
PMCID: PMC1989748  PMID: 17896856
8.  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
9.  '20 days protected learning' - students' experiences of an overseas nurses programme - 4 years on: a retrospective survey 
BMC Nursing  2011;10:7.
Background
From September 2005 the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) introduced new arrangements for the registration of non-EU overseas nurses which requires all applicants to undertake '20 days of protected learning' time in the UK and for some, a period of supervised practice. A survey was undertaken at Bournemouth University, which offers a '20 days protected learning only' programme, to elicit overseas nurses' demographic details, experiences in completing the programme and their 'final destinations' once registered.
Methods
An online survey was devised which contained a mixture of tick box and open ended questions which covered demographic details, views on the programme and final destinations This was uploaded to http://www.surveymonkey.com/ and sent out to nurses who had completed the Overseas Nurses Programme (ONP) with Bournemouth University (n = 1050). Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and the qualitative data were coded and analysed using content analysis.
Results
There were 251 respondents (27.7% response rate). The typical 'profile' of a nurse who responded to the survey was female, aged 25-40 years and had been qualified for more than 5 years with a bachelors degree. The majority came from Australia on a 2 year working holiday visa and the key final destination in the UK, on registration with the NMC, was working for an agency.
There were five key findings regarding experience of the programme. Of those surveyed 61.2% did not feel it necessary to undergo an ONP; 71.6% felt that they should be able to complete the programme on-line in their own country; 64.2% that the ONP should only contain information about delivery of healthcare in UK and Legal and professional (NMC) issues; 57% that European nurses should also undergo the same programme and sit an IELTS test; and 68.2% that the programme was too theory orientated; and should have links to practice (21%).
Conclusions
The NMC set the admissions criteria for entry to the register and Standards for an ONP. The findings of this survey raise issues regarding the perceived value and use of this approach for overseas nurses, and it may be helpful to take this into account when considering future policy.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-10-7
PMCID: PMC3111357  PMID: 21504556
10.  'It gives you an understanding you can't get from any book.' The relationship between medical students' and doctors' personal illness experiences and their performance: a qualitative and quantitative study 
Background
Anecdotes abound about doctors' personal illness experiences and the effect they have on their empathy and care of patients. We formally investigated the relationship between doctors' and medical students' personal illness experiences, their examination results, preparedness for clinical practice, learning and professional attitudes and behaviour towards patients.
Methods
Newly-qualified UK doctors in 2005 (n = 2062/4784), and two cohorts of students at one London medical school (n = 640/749) participated in the quantitative arm of the study. 37 Consultants, 1 Specialist Registrar, 2 Clinical Skills Tutors and 25 newly-qualified doctors participated in the qualitative arm. Newly-qualified doctors and medical students reported their personal illness experiences in a questionnaire. Doctors' experiences were correlated with self-reported preparedness for their new clinical jobs. Students' experiences were correlated with their examination results, and self-reported anxiety and depression. Interviews with clinical teachers, newly-qualified doctors and senior doctors qualitatively investigated how personal illness experiences affect learning, professional attitudes, and behaviour.
Results
85.5% of newly-qualified doctors and 54.4% of medical students reported personal illness experiences. Newly-qualified doctors who had been ill felt less prepared for starting work (p < 0.001), but those who had only experienced illness in a relative or friend felt more prepared (p = 0.02). Clinical medical students who had been ill were more anxious (p = 0.01) and had lower examination scores (p = 0.006). Doctors felt their personal illness experiences helped them empathise and communicate with patients. Medical students with more life experience were perceived as more mature, empathetic, and better learners; but illness at medical school was recognised to impede learning.
Conclusion
The majority of the medical students and newly qualified doctors we studied reported personal illness experiences, and these experiences were associated with lower undergraduate examination results, higher anxiety, and lower preparedness. However reflection on such experiences may have improved professional attitudes such as empathy and compassion for patients. Future research is warranted in this area.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-50
PMCID: PMC2211477  PMID: 18053231
11.  Professional Uncertainty and Disempowerment Responding to Ethnic Diversity in Health Care: A Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(11):e323.
Background
While ethnic disparities in health and health care are increasing, evidence on how to enhance quality of care and reduce inequalities remains limited. Despite growth in the scope and application of guidelines on “cultural competence,” remarkably little is known about how practising health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities. Using cancer care as a clinical context, we aimed to explore this with a range of health professionals to inform interventions to enhance quality of care.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a qualitative study involving 18 focus groups with a purposeful sample of 106 health professionals of differing disciplines, in primary and secondary care settings, working with patient populations of varying ethnic diversity in the Midlands of the UK. Data were analysed by constant comparison and we undertook processes for validation of analysis. We found that, as they sought to offer appropriate care, health professionals wrestled with considerable uncertainty and apprehension in responding to the needs of patients of ethnicities different from their own. They emphasised their perceived ignorance about cultural difference and were anxious about being culturally inappropriate, causing affront, or appearing discriminatory or racist. Professionals' ability to think and act flexibly or creatively faltered. Although trying to do their best, professionals' uncertainty was disempowering, creating a disabling hesitancy and inertia in their practice. Most professionals sought and applied a knowledge-based cultural expertise approach to patients, though some identified the risk of engendering stereotypical expectations of patients. Professionals' uncertainty and disempowerment had the potential to perpetuate each other, to the detriment of patient care.
Conclusions
This study suggests potential mechanisms by which health professionals may inadvertently contribute to ethnic disparities in health care. It identifies critical opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively. Interventions should help professionals acknowledge their uncertainty and its potential to create inertia in their practice. A shift away from a cultural expertise model toward a greater focus on each patient as an individual may help.
From a qualitative study, Joe Kai and colleagues have identified opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively to challenges in their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Communities are increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity (belonging to a group of people defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin) and race (belonging to a group identified by inherited physical characteristics). Although health professionals and governments are striving to ensure that everybody has the same access to health care, there is increasing evidence of ethnic inequalities in health-care outcomes. Some of these inequalities reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—Ashkenazi Jews, for example, often carry an altered gene that increases their chance of developing aggressive breast cancer. Often, however, these differences reflect inequalities in the health care received by different ethnic groups. To improve this situation, “cultural competence” has been promoted over recent years. Cultural competence is the development of skills by individuals and organizations that allow them to work effectively with people from different cultures. Health professionals are now taught about ethnic differences in health beliefs and practices, religion, and communication styles to help them provide the best service to all their patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Numerous guidelines aim to improve cultural competency but little is known about how health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic groups. Is their behavior influenced by ethnicity in ways that might contribute to health care disparities? For example, do doctors sometimes avoid medical examinations for fear of causing offence because of cultural differences? If more were known about how health professionals handle ethnic diversity (a term used here to include both ethnicity and race) it might be possible to reduce ethnic inequalities in health care. In this qualitative study, the researchers have explored how health professionals involved in cancer care are affected by working with ethnically diverse patients. A qualitative study is one that collects nonquantitative data such as how doctors “feel” about treating people of different ethnic backgrounds; a quantitative study might compare clinical outcomes in different ethnic groups.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 106 doctors, nurses, and other health-related professionals from different health-service settings in the Midlands, an ethnically diverse region of the UK. They organized 18 focus groups in which the health professionals described their experiences of caring for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The participants were encouraged to recall actual cases and to identify what they saw as problems and strengths in their interactions with these patients. The researchers found that the health professionals wrestled with many challenges when providing health care for patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds. These challenges included problems with language and with general communication (for example, deciding when it was acceptable to touch a patient to show empathy). Health professionals also worried they did not know enough about cultural differences. As a result, they said they often felt uncertain of their ability to avoid causing affront or appearing racist. This uncertainty, the researchers report, disempowered the health professionals, sometimes making them hesitate or fail to do what was best for their patient.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal that health professionals often experience considerable uncertainty when caring for ethnically diverse patients, even after training in cultural competency. They also show that this uncertainty can lead to hesitancy and inertia, which might contribute to ethnic health care inequalities. Because the study participants were probably already interested in ethnic diversity and health care, interviews with other health professionals (and investigations of patient experiences) are needed to confirm these findings. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest several interventions that might reduce health care inequalities caused by ethnic diversity. For example, health professionals should be encouraged to recognize their uncertainty and should have access to more information and training about ethnic differences. In addition, there should be a shift in emphasis away from relying on knowledge-based cultural information towards taking an “ethnographic” approach. In other words, health professionals should be helped to feel able to ask their patients about what matters most to them as individuals about their illness and treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323.
Information on cultural competence and health care is available from the US National Center for Cultural Competence (in English and Spanish) and DiversityRx
PROCEED (Professionals Responding to Cancer in Ethnic Diversity) is a multimedia training tool for educators within the health and allied professions developed from the results of this study; a press release on PROCEED is available from the University of Nottingham
Transcultural Health Care Practice: An educational resource for nurses and health care practitioners is available on the web site of the UK Royal College of Nursing
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323
PMCID: PMC2071935  PMID: 18001148
12.  Development of the clinical learning evaluation questionnaire for undergraduate clinical education: factor structure, validity, and reliability study 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:44.
Background
Teaching and learning of clinical skills for undergraduate medical students usually takes place during the clinical clerkship. Therefore, it is of vital importance to ensure the effectiveness of the rotations within this clerkship. The aims of this study were to develop an instrument that measures the effectiveness of the clinical learning environment, to determine its factor structure, and to find first evidence for the reliability and validity of the total scale and the different factors.
Methods
The Clinical Learning Evaluation Questionnaire (CLEQ) is an instrument, consisting of 40 items, which have been developed after consideration of the results of a qualitative study that investigated the important factors influencing clinical learning, both from the perspective of students, as well as teachers. Results of relevant literature that investigated this issue were also incorporated in the CLEQ. This instrument was administered to a sample of students (N = 182) from three medical colleges in Riyadh city, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The factor structure of the CLEQ (Principal component analysis, Oblimin rotation) and reliability of the factor scales (Cronbach’s α) were determined. Hypotheses concerning the correlations between the different factors were tested to investigate their convergent and divergent validity.
Results
One hundred and nine questionnaires were returned. The factor analysis yielded six factors: F1 Cases (8 items), F2 Authenticity of clinical experience (8 items), F3 Supervision (8 items), F4 Organization of the doctor-patient encounter (4 items), F5 Motivation to learn (5 items), and F6 Self awareness (4 items). The overall internal consistency (α) of the CLEQ was 0.88, and the reliabilities (Cronbach’s α) of the six factors varied from .60 to .86. Hypotheses concerning the correlations between the different factors were partly confirmed, which supported the convergent validity of the factors, but not their divergent validity. Significant differences were found between the scores of the students of the three different schools on the factors Supervision and Organization of patient-doctor encounter.
Conclusions
The results of this study demonstrated that CLEQ is a multidimensional and reliable instrument. It can be utilized as an evaluation tool for clinical teaching activities, both by educators as well as students. Further research is needed into the validity of the CLEQ.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-44
PMCID: PMC3944808  PMID: 24592913
13.  Professional approaches in clinical judgements among senior and junior doctors: implications for medical education 
Background
Clinical experience has traditionally been highly valued in medical education and clinical healthcare. On account of its multi-faceted nature, clinical experience is mostly difficult to articulate, and is mainly expressed in clinical situations as professional approaches. Due to retirement, hospitals in Scandinavia will soon face a substantial decrease in the number of senior specialist doctors, and it has been discussed whether healthcare will suffer an immense loss of experienced-based knowledge when this senior group leaves the organization. Both senior specialists and junior colleagues are often involved in clinical education, but the way in which these two groups vary in professional approaches and contributions to clinical education has not been so well described. Cognitive psychology has contributed to the understanding of how experience may influence professional approaches, but such studies have not included the effect of differences in position and responsibilities that junior and senior doctors hold in clinical healthcare. In the light of the discussion above, it is essential to describe the professional approaches of senior doctors in relation to those of their junior colleagues. This study therefore aims to describe and compare the professional approaches of junior and senior doctors when making clinical judgements.
Methods
Critical incident technique was used in interviews with nine senior doctors and nine junior doctors in internal medicine. The interviews were subjected to qualitative content analysis.
Result
Senior and junior doctors expressed a variety of professional approaches in clinical judgement as follows: use of theoretical knowledge, use of prior experience of cases and courses of events, use of ethical and moral values, meeting and communicating with the patient, focusing on available information, relying on their own ability, getting support and guidance from others and being directed by the organization.
Conclusion
The most prominent varieties of professional approaches were seen in use of knowledge and work-related experience. Senior doctors know how the organization has worked in the past and have acquired techniques with respect to long-term decisions and their consequences. Junior doctors, on the other hand, have developed techniques and expertise for making decisions based on a restricted amount of information, in relation to patients' wellbeing as well as organizational opportunities and constraints. This study contributes to medical education by elucidating the variation in professional approaches among junior and senior doctors, which can be used as a basis for discussion about clinical judgement, in both pre-clinical and clinical education. Further research is required to explain how these professional approaches are expressed and used in clinical education.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-25
PMCID: PMC2693513  PMID: 19460139
14.  Master's level in primary health care education - students' and preceptors' perceptions and experiences of the alteration in the clinical areas 
BMC Nursing  2010;9:11.
Background
Many Western European countries are undergoing reforms with changes in higher education according to the Bologna declaration for Higher European Education Area. In accordance with these changes, the Master's degree was introduced in specialist nurse education in Sweden in 2007, and as a result changed the curriculum and modified theoretical and clinical areas. The aim of this study was to investigate students' and preceptors' perceptions and experiences of Master's level education in primary health care with a focus on the clinical area.
Methods
A descriptive design and qualitative approach was used. Interviews with ten students and ten preceptors were performed twice, before and after the clinical practice period. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and themes formulated.
Results
Students perceived alteration in the content of the education at the Master's level such as more independence and additional assignments. The preceptors perceived benefits with the Master's level but were unsure of how to transform theoretical and abstract knowledge into practice. Writing the Master's thesis was seen by students to take time away from clinical practice. For some students and preceptors the content of the Master's level clinical practice area was experienced as vague and indistinct. The students had not expected supervision to be different from earlier experiences, while preceptors felt higher demands and requested more knowledge. Both students and preceptors perceived that education at the Master's level might lead to a higher status for the nurses' profession in primary health care.
Conclusions
Students and preceptors experienced both advantages and disadvantages concerning the change in specialist nurse education in primary health care at the Master's level. The altered educational content was experienced as a step forward, but they also questioned how the new knowledge could be used in practice. The relevance of the Master's thesis was questioned. Supervision was seen by students as an introduction to the work of the district nurses' work. Preceptors perceived high demands and did not feel enough qualified for student supervision. Both groups considered it an advantage with the change in education that could result in higher status for nurses working in primary health care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-9-11
PMCID: PMC2904288  PMID: 20553620
15.  Developing a competency-based curriculum in HIV for nursing schools in Haiti 
Background
Preparing health workers to confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic is an urgent challenge in Haiti, where the HIV prevalence rate is 2.2% and approximately 10 100 people are taking antiretroviral treatment. There is a critical shortage of doctors in Haiti, leaving nurses as the primary care providers for much of the population. Haiti's approximately 1000 nurses play a leading role in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment. However, nurses do not receive sufficient training at the pre-service level to carry out this important work.
Methods
To address this issue, the Ministry of Health and Population collaborated with the International Training and Education Center on HIV over a period of 12 months to create a competency-based HIV/AIDS curriculum to be integrated into the 4-year baccalaureate programme of the four national schools of nursing.
Results
Using a review of the international health and education literature on HIV/AIDS competencies and various models of curriculum development, a Haiti-based curriculum committee developed expected HIV/AIDS competencies for graduating nurses and then drafted related learning objectives. The committee then mapped these learning objectives to current courses in the nursing curriculum and created an 'HIV/AIDS Teaching Guide' for faculty on how to integrate and achieve these objectives within their current courses. The curriculum committee also created an 'HIV/AIDS Reference Manual' that detailed the relevant HIV/AIDS content that should be taught for each course.
Conclusion
All nursing students will now need to demonstrate competency in HIV/AIDS-related knowledge, skills and attitudes during periodic assessment with direct observation of the student performing authentic tasks. Faculty will have the responsibility of developing exercises to address the required objectives and creating assessment tools to demonstrate that their graduates have met the objectives. This activity brought different administrators, nurse leaders and faculty from four geographically dispersed nursing schools to collaborate on a shared goal using a process that could be easily replicated to integrate any new topic in a resource-constrained pre-service institution. It is hoped that this experience provided stakeholders with the experience, skills and motivation to strengthen other domains of the pre-service nursing curriculum, improve the synchronization of didactic and practical training and develop standardized, competency-based examinations for nursing licensure in Haiti.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-6-17
PMCID: PMC2535593  PMID: 18759986
16.  Becoming a medical educator: motivation, socialisation and navigation 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:110.
Background
Despite an increasing concern about a future shortage of medical educators, little published research exists on career choices in medical education nor the impact of specific training posts in medical education (e.g. academic registrar/resident positions). Medical educators at all levels, from both medical and non-medical backgrounds, are crucial for the training of medical students, junior doctors and in continuing professional development. We explored the motivations and experiences of junior doctors considering an education career and undertaking a medical education registrar (MER) post.
Methods
Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with junior doctors and clinicians across Queensland Health. Framework analysis was used to identify themes in the data, based on our defined research questions and the medical education workforce issues prompting the study. We applied socio-cognitive career theory to guide our analysis and to explore the experience of junior doctors in medical education registrar posts as they enter, navigate and fulfil the role.
Results
We identified six key themes in the data: motivation for career choice and wanting to provide better education; personal goals, expectations and the need for self-direction; the influence of role models; defining one’s identity; support networks and the need for research as a potential barrier to pursuing a career in/with education. We also identified the similarities and differences between the MERs’ experiences to develop a composite of an MER’s journey through career choice, experience in role and outcomes.
Conclusions
There is growing interest from junior doctors in pursuing education pathways in a clinical environment. They want to enhance clinical teaching in the hospitals and become specialists with an interest in education, and have no particular interest in research or academia. This has implications for the recruitment and training of the next generation of clinical educators.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-110
PMCID: PMC4047547  PMID: 24885740
17.  Reflections of students graduating from a transforming medical curriculum in South Africa: a qualitative study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:49.
Background
The six year medical programme at the University of the Witwatersrand admits students into the programme through two routes – school entrants and graduate entrants. Graduates join the school entrants in the third year of study in a transformed curriculum called the Graduate Entry Medical Programme (GEMP). In years I and 2 of the GEMP, the curriculum is structured into system based blocks. Problem-based learning, using a three session format, is applied in these two years. The curriculum adopts a biopsychosocial approach to health care, which is implemented through spiral teaching and learning in four main themes – basic and clinical sciences, patient-doctor, community- doctor and personal and professional development. In 2010 this programme produced its fifth cohort of graduates.
Methods
We undertook a qualitative, descriptive and contextual study to explore the graduating students’ perceptions of the programme. Interviews were conducted with a total of 35 participants who volunteered to participate in the study. The majority of the participants interviewed participated in focus group discussions. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically, using Tesch’s eight steps. Ethics approval for the study was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of the Witwatersrand. Participants provided written consent to participate in the interviews and for the interviews to be audio-taped.
Results
Six themes were identified. These were: two separate programmes, problem-based learning and Garmins® (navigation system), see patients for real, being seen as doctors, assessment: of mice and MCQ’s, a cry for support and personal growth and pride. Participants were vocal in their reflections of experiences encountered during the programme and made several insightful suggestions for curriculum transformation. The findings suggest that graduates are exiting the programme confident and ready to begin their internships.
Conclusions
The findings of this study have identified a number of areas which need attention in the curriculum. Specifically attention needs to be given to ensuring that assessment is standardized; student support structures and appropriate levels of teaching. The study demonstrated the value of qualitative methods in obtaining students’ perceptions of a curriculum.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-49
PMCID: PMC3460748  PMID: 22742710
18.  ‘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
19.  Web-Based Virtual Patients in Nursing Education: Development and Validation of Theory-Anchored Design and Activity Models 
Background
Research has shown that nursing students find it difficult to translate and apply their theoretical knowledge in a clinical context. Virtual patients (VPs) have been proposed as a learning activity that can support nursing students in their learning of scientific knowledge and help them integrate theory and practice. Although VPs are increasingly used in health care education, they still lack a systematic consistency that would allow their reuse outside of their original context. There is therefore a need to develop a model for the development and implementation of VPs in nursing education.
Objective
The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a virtual patient model optimized to the learning and assessment needs in nursing education.
Methods
The process of modeling started by reviewing theoretical frameworks reported in the literature and used by practitioners when designing learning and assessment activities. The Outcome-Present State Test (OPT) model was chosen as the theoretical framework. The model was then, in an iterative manner, developed and optimized to the affordances of virtual patients. Content validation was performed with faculty both in terms of the relevance of the chosen theories but also its applicability in nursing education. The virtual patient nursing model was then instantiated in two VPs. The students’ perceived usefulness of the VPs was investigated using a questionnaire. The result was analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results
A virtual patient Nursing Design Model (vpNDM) composed of three layers was developed. Layer 1 contains the patient story and ways of interacting with the data, Layer 2 includes aspects of the iterative process of clinical reasoning, and finally Layer 3 includes measurable outcomes. A virtual patient Nursing Activity Model (vpNAM) was also developed as a guide when creating VP-centric learning activities. The students perceived the global linear VPs as a relevant learning activity for the integration of theory and practice.
Conclusions
Virtual patients that are adapted to the nursing paradigm can support nursing students’ development of clinical reasoning skills. The proposed virtual patient nursing design and activity models will allow the systematic development of different types of virtual patients from a common model and thereby create opportunities for sharing pedagogical designs across technical solutions.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2556
PMCID: PMC4004162  PMID: 24727709
virtual patient; patient simulation; nursing education; clinical reasoning; e-learning, simulation technology
20.  A systematic mapping review of effective interventions for communicating with, supporting and providing information to parents of preterm infants 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000023.
Background and objective
The birth of a preterm infant can be an overwhelming experience of guilt, fear and helplessness for parents. Provision of interventions to support and engage parents in the care of their infant may improve outcomes for both the parents and the infant. The objective of this systematic review is to identify and map out effective interventions for communication with, supporting and providing information for parents of preterm infants.
Design
Systematic searches were conducted in the electronic databases Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, the Cochrane library, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Midwives Information and Resource Service, Health Management Information Consortium, and Health Management and Information Service. Hand-searching of reference lists and journals was conducted. Studies were included if they provided parent-reported outcomes of interventions relating to information, communication and/or support for parents of preterm infants prior to the birth, during care at the neonatal intensive care unit and after going home with their preterm infant. Titles and abstracts were read for relevance, and papers judged to meet inclusion criteria were included. Papers were data-extracted, their quality was assessed, and a narrative summary was conducted in line with the York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination guidelines.
Studies reviewed
Of the 72 papers identified, 19 papers were randomised controlled trials, 16 were cohort or quasi-experimental studies, and 37 were non-intervention studies.
Results
Interventions for supporting, communicating with, and providing information to parents that have had a premature infant are reported. Parents report feeling supported through individualised developmental and behavioural care programmes, through being taught behavioural assessment scales, and through breastfeeding, kangaroo-care and baby-massage programmes. Parents also felt supported through organised support groups and through provision of an environment where parents can meet and support each other. Parental stress may be reduced through individual developmental care programmes, psychotherapy, interventions that teach emotional coping skills and active problem-solving, and journal writing. Evidence reports the importance of preparing parents for the neonatal unit through the neonatal tour, and the importance of good communication throughout the infant admission phase and after discharge home. Providing individual web-based information about the infant, recording doctor–patient consultations and provision of an information binder may also improve communication with parents. The importance of thorough discharge planning throughout the infant's admission phase and the importance of home-support programmes are also reported.
Conclusion
The paper reports evidence of interventions that help support, communicate with and inform parents who have had a premature infant throughout the admission phase of the infant, discharge and return home. The level of evidence reported is mixed, and this should be taken into account when developing policy. A summary of interventions from the available evidence is reported.
Article summary
Article focus
A systematic mapping review to identify and synthesise evidence of effective interventions for communicating with, supporting and providing information for parents of preterm infants.
Key messages
The review highlights the importance of encouraging and involving parents in the care of their preterm infant at the neonatal unit to enhance their ability to cope with and improve their confidence in caring for the infant, which may also lead to improved infant outcomes and reduced length of stay at the neonatal unit.
Interventions for supporting parents included: (1) involving parents in individualised developmental and behavioural care programmes (eg, Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment (COPE), Neonatal Individualised Developmental Care and Assessment Programme, Mother–Infant Transaction Programme (MITP)) and behavioural assessment programmes; (2) breastfeeding, kangaroo-care and infant-massage programmes; (3) support forums for parents; (4) interventions to alleviate parental stress; (5) preparation of parents for various stages—for example, seeing their infant for the first time, preparing to go home; (6) home-support programmes.
Involving parents in the exchange of information with and between health professionals is important, with various modes of providing this information reported—for example, ward rounds with doctors, discussion around infant notes, websites and hard-copy information.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Strengths
This is the first review to synthesise the evidence of interventions to support parents of preterm infants through improved provision of information, improved communications between parents and health professionals, and alleviation of stress at all stages of a parent's journey through the neonatal unit. It highlights relatively inexpensive interventions that can be integrated into their pathway through the neonatal unit and return home, enhancing parental coping and potentially improving infant outcomes and reducing the infants length of stay at the neonatal unit.
Limitations
The quality of the evidence that this review reports is variable, and includes all types of study designs. It has been difficult to evaluate one piece of evidence over another because of the nature of the evidence. For example, whether randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are an appropriate method of evaluating the parents' experiences of interventions over and above, say, a qualitative study is debatable. While the RCT studies are more objective, they often fail to provide a more in-depth empirical reality of parents' experiences of having a premature infant. A well-conducted RCT may not provide a true reflection of improved self-esteem or empowerment, for example, whereas a qualitative study provides an understanding of the experiences. Furthermore, evaluation of such complex interventions is challenging because of the various interconnecting parts of the pathway reported in figure 2.
It is therefore very difficult to evaluate the results to say that one study method is better than another. For this reason, we have been inclusive in our selection of studies, resulting in a large number of studies selected for the review. Being inclusive of studies benefits the evidence base by bringing together ‘experience’ studies in a systematic way gaining a greater breadth of perspectives and a deeper understanding of issues from the point of view of those targeted by the interventions. However, if studies were fatally flawed, they were excluded from the review.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000023
PMCID: PMC3191395  PMID: 22021730
Social Health; community child health; paediatric intensive and critical care; education and training; quality in healthcare
21.  Vocation, Friendship and Resilience: A Study Exploring Nursing Student and Staff Views on Retention and Attrition 
The Open Nursing Journal  2013;7:149-156.
Introduction:
There is international concern about retention of student nurses on undergraduate programmes. United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions are monitored on their attrition statistics and can be penalised financially, so they have an incentive to help students remain on their programmes beyond their moral duty to ensure students receive the best possible educational experience.
Aims:
to understand students’ and staff concerns about programmes and placements as part of developing our retention strategies.
Design:
This study reports qualitative data on retention and attrition collected as part of an action research study.
Setting:
One University School of Nursing and Midwifery in the South West of England.
Participants:
Staff, current third year and ex-student nurses from the adult field.
Methods:
Data were collected in focus groups, both face-to face and virtual, and individual telephone interviews. These were transcribed and subjected to qualitative content analysis.
Results:
Four themes emerged: Academic support, Placements and mentors, Stresses and the reality of nursing life, and Dreams for a better programme.
Conclusions:
The themes Academic support, Placements and mentors and Stresses and the reality of nursing life, resonate with international literature. Dreams for a better programme included smaller group learning. Vocation, friendship and resilience seem instrumental in retaining students, and Higher Education Institutions should work to facilitate these. ‘Vocation’ has been overlooked in the retention discussions, and working more actively to foster vocation and belongingness could be important.
doi:10.2174/1874434601307010149
PMCID: PMC3807580  PMID: 24167537
Student nurse; retention; qualitative research; action research.
22.  Medical students' and facilitators' experiences of an Early Professional Contact course: Active and motivated students, strained facilitators 
Background
Today, medical students are introduced to patient contact, communication skills, and clinical examination in the preclinical years of the curriculum with the purpose of gaining clinical experience. These courses are often evaluated from the student perspective. Reports with an additional emphasis on the facilitator perspective are scarce. According to constructive alignment, an influential concept from research in higher education, the learning climate between students and teachers is also of great importance. In this paper, we approach the learning climate by studying both students' and facilitators' course experiences.
In 2001, a new "Early Professional Contact" longitudinal strand through term 1–4, was introduced at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. General practitioners and hospital specialists were facilitators.
The aim of this study was to assess and analyse students' and clinical facilitators' experiences of the Early Professional Contact course and to illuminate facilitators' working conditions.
Methods
Inspired by a Swedish adaptation of the Course Experience Questionnaire, an Early Professional Contact Questionnaire was constructed. In 2003, on the completion of the first longitudinal strand, a student and facilitator version was distributed to 86 students and 21 facilitators. In the analysis, both Chi-square and the Mann-Whitney tests were used.
Results
Sixty students (70%) and 15 facilitators (71%) completed the questionnaire. Both students and facilitators were satisfied with the course. Students reported gaining iiration for their future work as doctors along with increased confidence in meeting patients. They also reported increased motivation for biomedical studies. Differences in attitudes between facilitators and students were found. Facilitators experienced a greater workload, less reasonable demands and less support, than students.
Conclusion
In this project, a new Early Professional Contact course was analysed from both student and facilitator perspectives. The students experienced the course as providing them with a valuable introduction to the physician's professional role in clinical practice. In contrast, course facilitators often experienced a heavy workload and lack of support, despite thorough preparatory education. A possible conflict between the clinical facilitator's task as educator and member of the workplace is suggested. More research is needed on how doctors combine their professional tasks with work as facilitators.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-56
PMCID: PMC2614986  PMID: 19055727
23.  Something going on in Milan: a review of the 4th International PhD Student Cancer Conference 
ecancermedicalscience  2010;4:198.
The 4th International PhD Student Cancer Conference was held at the IFOM-IEO-Campus in Milan from 19–21 May 2010 http://www.semm.it/events_researchPast.php
The Conference covered many topics related to cancer, from basic biology to clinical aspects of the disease. All attendees presented their research, by either giving a talk or presenting a poster. This conference is an opportunity to introduce PhD students to top cancer research institutes across Europe.
The core participanting institutes included: European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM)—IFOM-IEO Campus, MilanBeatson Institute for Cancer Research (BICR), GlasgowCambridge Research Institute (CRI), Cambridge, UKMRC Gray Institute of Radiation Biology (GIROB), OxfordLondon Research Institute (LRI), LondonPaterson Institute for Cancer Research (PICR), ManchesterThe Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), Amsterdam
‘You organizers have crushed all my prejudices towards Italians. Congratulations, I enjoyed the conference immensely!’ Even if it might have sounded like rudeness for sure this was supposed to be a genuine compliment (at least, that’s how we took it), also considering that it was told by a guy who himself was the fusion of two usually antithetical concepts: fashion style and English nationality.
The year 2010 has marked an important event for Italian research in the international scientific panorama: the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM) had the honour to host the 4th International PhD Student Cancer Conference, which was held from 19–21 May 2010 at the IFOM-IEO-Campus (http://www.semm.it/events_researchPast.php) in Milan.
The conference was attended by more than one hundred students, coming from a selection of cutting edge European institutes devoted to cancer research. The rationale behind it is the promotion of cooperation among young scientists across Europe to debate about science and to exchange ideas and experiences. But that is not all, it is also designed for PhD students to get in touch with other prestigious research centres and to create connections for future post docs or job experiences. And last but not least, it is a golden chance for penniless PhD students to spend a couple of extra days visiting a foreign country (this motivation will of course never be voiced to supervisors).
The network of participating institutes has a three-nation core, made up of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, the Italian European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM) and five UK Cancer Research Institutes (The London Research Institute, The Cambridge Research Institute, The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, The Patterson Institute for Cancer Research in Manchester and the MRC Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology in Oxford).
The conference is hosted and organised every year by one of the core institutes; the first was in Cambridge in 2007, Amsterdam in 2008 and London in 2009, this year was the turn of Milan.
In addition to the core institutes, PhD students from several other high-profile institutes are invited to attend the conference. This year participants applied from the Spanish National Cancer Centre (CNIO, Madrid), the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ, Heidelberg), the European Molecular Biology Labs (EMBL, Heidelberg) and the San Raffaele Institute (HSR, Milan). Moreover four ‘special guests’ from the National Centre for Biological Sciences of Bangalore (India) attended the conference in Milan. This represents a first step in widening the horizons beyond Europe into a global worldwide network of talented PhD students in life sciences.
The conference spread over two and a half days (Wednesday 19th to Friday 21st May) and touched on a broad spectrum of topics: from basic biology to development, from cancer therapies to modelling and top-down new generation global approaches. The final selection of presentations has been a tough task for us organisers (Chiara Segré, Federica Castellucci, Francesca Milanesi, Gianluca Varetti and Gian Maria Sarra Ferraris), due to the high scientific level of the abstracts submitted. In the end, 26 top students were chosen to give a 15-min oral presentation in one of eight sessions: Development & Differentiation, Cell Migration, Immunology & Cancer, Modelling & Large Scale approaches, Genome Instability, Signal Transduction, Cancer Genetics & Drug Resistance, Stem Cells in Biology and Cancer.
The scientific programme was further enriched by two scientific special sessions, held by Professor Pier Paolo di Fiore and Dr Giuseppe Testa, Principal Investigators at the IFOM-IEO-Campus and by a bioethical round table on human embryonic stem cell research moderated by Silvia Camporesi, a senior PhD student in the SEMM PhD Programme ‘Foundation of Life Science and their Bioethical Consequences’.
On top of everything, we had the pleasure of inviting, as keynote speakers, two leading European scientists in the fields of cancer invasion and biology of stem cells, respectively: Dr Peter Friedl from The Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life (The Netherlands) and Professor Andreas Trumpp from The Heidelberg Institute for Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine (Heidelberg).
All the student talks have distinguished themselves for the impressive quality of the science; an encouraging evidence of the high profile level of research carried out in Europe. It would be beyond the purposes of this report to summarise all 26 talks, which touched many different and specific topics. For further information, the Conference Abstract book with all the scientific content is available on the conference Web site (http://www.semm.it/events_researchPast.php). In what follows, the special sessions and the keynote lectures will be discussed in detail.
doi:10.3332/ecancer.2010.198
PMCID: PMC3234021  PMID: 22276043
24.  Peer Teaching in Paediatrics - Medical Students as Learners and Teachers on a Paediatric Course 
Background: Peer assisted learning is known as an effective educational strategy in medical teaching. We established a peer assisted teaching program by student tutors with a focus on clinical competencies for students during their practical training on paediatric wards. It was the purpose of this study to investigate the effects of a clinical skills training by tutors, residents and consultants on students evaluations of the teaching quality and the effects of a peer teaching program on self assessed clinical competencies by the students.
Methods: Medical student peers in their 6th year were trained by an intensive instruction program for teaching clinical skills by paediatric consultants, doctors and psychologists. 109 students in their 5th year (study group) participated in a peer assisted teaching program for training clinical skills in paediatrics. The skills training by student peer teachers were supervised by paediatric doctors. 45 students (control group) participated in a conventional paediatric skills training by paediatric doctors and consultants. Students from both groups, which were consecutively investigated, completed a questionnaire with an evaluation of the satisfaction with their practical training and a self assessment of their practical competencies.
Results: The paediatric skills training with student peer teachers received significantly better ratings than the conventional skills training by paediatric doctors concerning both the quality of the practical training and the support by the teaching medical staff. Self assessed learning success in practical skills was higher rated in the peer teaching program than in the conventional training.
Conclusions: The peer assisted teaching program of paediatric skills training was rated higher by the students regarding their satisfaction with the teaching quality and their self assessment of the acquired skills. Clinical skills training by student peer teachers have to be supervised by paediatric doctors. Paediatric doctors seem to be more motivated for their own teaching tasks if they are assisted by student peer teachers. More research is needed to investigate the influence of peer teaching on the motivation of paediatric doctors to teach medical students und the academic performance of the student peers.
doi:10.3205/zma000708
PMCID: PMC3140377  PMID: 21818216
Peer assisted learning; clinical skills training in paediatrics; student evaluation; student self assessment
25.  Professional Ethical Competence in nursing: the role of nursing instructors 
Teaching ethics to nurses leads to their involvement in providing high quality care, enable them to duly encounter ethical issues. One of the key elements of educational systems is nursing instructors. Even though lots of studies show the role of instructors in students’ learning, their role in promotion of professional ethics has been attended to less.
The objective of this study is surveying the experience of nursing students with respect to the role of instructors in promotion of professional ethics.
This qualitative study enrolled 15 undergraduate nursing students from three nursing schools in Teheran whom depth interview was performed. The interview was semi-structured with open ended questions. The analysis was accomplished by use of qualitative content-analysis method.
Data analysis demonstrated 2 main themes and 7 subcategories in regard to the role of instructors in promotion of professional ethics in nursing students including: 1) the effective professional role model 2) facilitating creative learning. The effective professional role model encompasses individual characteristics and beliefs, clinical skills and professional commitment of role model. Creative learning facilitates by encouraging critical thinking and decision-making, Providing supportive learning conditions, providing proper space for sharing knowledge followed by evaluation and creative feedback.
The findings of this study provides a background for strengthening the role of instructors in promotion of professional ethics with more emphasis on research which increase capability of instructors at nursing education centers.
PMCID: PMC3714123  PMID: 23908738
Nursing; Nursing student; Ethics

Results 1-25 (1209701)