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1.  Wanted: role models - medical students’ perceptions of professionalism 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:115.
Transformation of medical students to become medical professionals is a core competency required for physicians in the 21st century. Role modeling was traditionally the key method of transmitting this skill. Medical schools are developing medical curricula which are explicit in ensuring students develop the professional competency and understand the values and attributes of this role. The purpose of this study was to determine student perception of professionalism at the University of Ottawa and gain insights for improvement in promotion of professionalism in undergraduate medical education.
Survey on student perception of professionalism in general, the curriculum and learning environment at the University of Ottawa, and the perception of student behaviors, was developed by faculty and students and sent electronically to all University of Ottawa medical students. The survey included both quantitative items including an adapted Pritzker list and qualitative responses to eight open ended questions on professionalism at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. All analyses were performed using SAS version 9.1 (SAS Institute Inc. Cary, NC, USA). Chi-square and Fischer’s exact test (for cell count less than 5) were used to derive p-values for categorical variables by level of student learning.
The response rate was 45.6% (255 of 559 students) for all four years of the curriculum. 63% of the responses were from students in years 1 and 2 (preclerkship). Students identified role modeling as the single most important aspect of professionalism. The strongest curricular recommendations included faculty-led case scenario sessions, enhancing interprofessional interactions and the creation of special awards to staff and students to “celebrate” professionalism. Current evaluation systems were considered least effective. The importance of role modeling and information on how to report lapses and breaches was highlighted in the answers to the open ended questions.
Students identify the need for strong positive role models in their learning environment, and for effective evaluation of the professionalism of students and teachers. Medical school leaders must facilitate development of these components within the MD education and faculty development programs as well as in clinical milieus where student learning occurs.
PMCID: PMC3537482  PMID: 23153359
Professionalism; Curriculum; Undergraduate medical education; Learning environment
2.  Patient-reported outcomes in adequately treated hypothyroidism – insights from the German versions of ThyDQoL, ThySRQ and ThyTSQ 
Disease-specific patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) have been developed as important research tools in the study of various diseases. For hypothyroidism there exist three validated disease-specific questionnaires in English: the Thyroid-Dependent Quality of Life Questionnaire (ThyDQoL), the Underactive Thyroid Symptom Rating Questionnaire (ThySRQ) and the Thyroid Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaire (ThyTSQ). We report psychometric properties of new German versions of the questionnaires including construct validity from two independent samples.
230 envelopes with ThyDQoL, ThySRQ and ThyTSQ were given out to patients receiving levothyroxine for diagnosed hypothyroidism. Reliability and factor analyses were performed, correlations and hypothesised subgroup differences calculated to assess psychometric properties. Independently, 18 patients with treated hypothyroidism for autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s disease) and 18 healthy control subjects were enrolled in a clinical study. Participants filled in the above questionnaires alongside well-known generic PROMs, e.g. the Beck Depression Inventory, the 12-item Well-Being Questionnaire and the Short-Form-36. Two blood samples were taken. Groups were compared and correlations between disease-specific and generic instruments analysed. Relationships between PROMs and biochemically determined thyroid hormone status were investigated.
102 patients returned completed questionnaires (response rate 44%). The newly translated questionnaires had satisfactory psychometric properties. Cronbach’s alpha was 0.92 for ThyDQoL, 0.81 for ThySRQ and 0.86 for ThyTSQ. For each of the questionnaires, a single factor structure explained the data best. Adequately treated patients with thyroid stimulating hormone levels in the upper normal range reported more symptoms in the ThySRQ. Those with autoimmune hypothyroidism reported being more bothered by depressive symptoms. Within the clinical sample, correlation with well-known generic instruments revealed good construct validity. In the clinical sample patients reported more symptoms in the ThySRQ, being more bothered by tiredness, higher depression and reduced well-being despite biochemically adequate treatment. Correlations between PROMs and biochemical thyroid hormone status revealed moderate though consistent associations.
Psychometric properties including construct validity of German versions of the ThyDQoL, ThySRQ and ThyTSQ are satisfactory. Feasibility and sensitivity in a clinical sample could be shown. We encourage the use of disease-specific PROMs in future studies as important additions to generic instruments in clinical research on hypothyroidism.
PMCID: PMC3735043  PMID: 23618009
Hypothyroidism; Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs); Quality of life; Linguistic validation; Patient satisfaction
3.  Do students learn to be more conscientious at medical school? 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:54.
Professionalism in medical students is not only difficult to define but difficult to teach and measure. As negative behaviour in medical students is associated with post-graduate disciplinary action it would be useful to have a model whereby unprofessional behaviour at the undergraduate level can easily be identified to permit appropriate intervention. We have previously developed a scalar measure of conscientiousness, the Conscientiousness Index (CI), which positively correlates to estimates of professional behaviour in undergraduate medical students. By comparing CI points awarded in year 1 and year 2 of study we were able to use the CI model to determine whether teaching and clinical exposure had any effect on students’ conscientiousness.
CI points were collected by administrative staff from 3 successive cohorts of students in years 1 and 2 of study. Points were awarded to students for activities such as submission of immunisation status and criminal record checks, submission of summative assignments by a specified date and attendance at compulsory teaching sessions. CI points were then converted to a percentage of maximal possible scores (CI %) to permit direct comparison between years 1 and 2 of study.
CI % scores were generally high with each year of study for each cohort showing negatively skewed normal distributions with peaks > 89%. There was a high degree of correlation of CI % scores between year 1 and year 2 of study for each cohort alone and when cohort data was combined. When the change in CI % from year 1 to year 2 for all students was compared there was no significant difference in conscientiousness observed.
We have provided evidence that use of a CI model in undergraduate medical students provides a reliable measure of conscientiousness that is easy to implement. Importantly this study shows that measurement of conscientiousness by the CI model in medical students does not change between years 1 and 2 study suggesting that it is a stable characteristic and not modified by teaching and clinical exposure.
PMCID: PMC3434045  PMID: 22784434
4.  A comparison of four shoulder-specific questionnaires in primary care 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;63(10):1293-1299.
Objectives: To compare the validity, responsiveness to change, and user friendliness of four self completed, shoulder-specific questionnaires in primary care.
Methods: A cross sectional assessment of validity and a longitudinal assessment of responsiveness to change of four shoulder questionnaires was carried out: the Dutch Shoulder Disability Questionnaire (SDQ-NL); the United Kingdom Shoulder Disability Questionnaire (SDQ-UK); and two American instruments, the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) and the Shoulder Rating Questionnaire (SRQ). 180 primary care consulters with new shoulder region pain each completed two of the questionnaires, as well as EuroQoL and 10 cm visual analogue scales (VAS) for overall pain and difficulty due to the shoulder problem. Each participant was assessed by a standardised clinical schedule. Postal follow up at 6 weeks included baseline measures and self rated assessment of global change of the shoulder problem (seven point Likert scale).
Results: Strongest correlations were found for SDQ-UK with EuroQoL 5 score, and for SPADI and SRQ with shoulder pain and difficulty VAS. All shoulder questionnaires correlated poorly with active movement at the painful shoulder. SPADI and SRQ performed better on ROC analysis than SDQ-NL and SDQ-UK (areas under the curve of 0.87, 0.85, 0.77, and 0.77, respectively). However, SRQ scores changed significantly over time in stable subjects.
Conclusions: Cross sectional comparison of the four shoulder questionnaires showed they had similar overall validity and patient acceptability. SPADI and SRQ were most responsive to change. Additionally, SPADI was the quickest to complete and scores did not change significantly in stable subjects.
PMCID: PMC1754749  PMID: 15361390
5.  Arthroscopy or ultrasound in undergraduate anatomy education: a randomized cross-over controlled trial 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:85.
The exponential growth of image-based diagnostic and minimally invasive interventions requires a detailed three-dimensional anatomical knowledge and increases the demand towards the undergraduate anatomical curriculum. This randomized controlled trial investigates whether musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) or arthroscopic methods can increase the anatomical knowledge uptake.
Second-year medical students were randomly allocated to three groups. In addition to the compulsory dissection course, the ultrasound group (MSUS) was taught by eight, didactically and professionally trained, experienced student-teachers and the arthroscopy group (ASK) was taught by eight experienced physicians. The control group (CON) acquired the anatomical knowledge only via the dissection course. Exposure (MSUS and ASK) took place in two separate lessons (75 minutes each, shoulder and knee joint) and introduced standard scan planes using a 10-MHz ultrasound system as well as arthroscopy tutorials at a simulator combined with video tutorials. The theoretical anatomic learning outcomes were tested using a multiple-choice questionnaire (MCQ), and after cross-over an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Differences in student’s perceptions were evaluated using Likert scale-based items.
The ASK-group (n = 70, age 23.4 (20–36) yrs.) performed moderately better in the anatomical MC exam in comparison to the MSUS-group (n = 84, age 24.2 (20–53) yrs.) and the CON-group (n = 88, 22.8 (20–33) yrs.; p = 0.019). After an additional arthroscopy teaching 1% of students failed the MC exam, in contrast to 10% in the MSUS- or CON-group, respectively. The benefit of the ASK module was limited to the shoulder area (p < 0.001). The final examination (OSCE) showed no significant differences between any of the groups with good overall performances. In the evaluation, the students certified the arthroscopic tutorial a greater advantage concerning anatomical skills with higher spatial imagination in comparison to the ultrasound tutorial (p = 0.002; p < 0.001).
The additional implementation of arthroscopy tutorials to the dissection course during the undergraduate anatomy training is profitable and attractive to students with respect to complex joint anatomy. Simultaneous teaching of basic-skills in musculoskeletal ultrasound should be performed by medical experts, but seems to be inferior to the arthroscopic 2D-3D-transformation, and is regarded by students as more difficult to learn. Although arthroscopy and ultrasound teaching do not have a major effect on learning joint anatomy, they have the potency to raise the interest in surgery.
PMCID: PMC3473305  PMID: 22958784
Arthroscopy; Education, Anatomic competence, Randomized controlled trial, Knee joint, Shoulder joint, Students; Medical, Musculoskeletal ultrasound
6.  Exploring reflective 'critical incident' documentation of professionalism lapses in a medical undergraduate setting 
Measuring professionalism in undergraduate medical students is a difficult process, and no one method has currently emerged as the definitive means of assessment in this field. Student skills in reflection have been shown to be highly important in the development of professional behaviours. By studying student reflections on lapses in professional judgement, recorded as 'critical incidents', it is possible to explore themes which are significant for the development of professional behaviour in an undergraduate setting.
We examined critical incident reporting combined with optional written student reflection as a method for exploring professionalism in undergraduate medical students. 228 students split between Year 1 and 2 of one academic year of undergraduate medicine were studied retrospectively and a grounded theory approach to analysis was employed.
This year generated 16 critical incident reports and corresponding student reflections, all of which were considered. In addition to identifying the nature of the critical incidents, 3 principal themes emerged. These were the impact and consequences of the report having been made, student reactions to the events (both positive and negative), and student responses regarding future actions.
This study indicates that unprofessional behaviour can be identified and challenged by both the faculty and the students involved, and suggests that positive behavioural changes might be made with the aim of preventing future occurrences. We provide a low cost approach of measuring and recording professional behaviour.
PMCID: PMC2714848  PMID: 19604378
7.  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.
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.
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
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
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.
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
8.  Can personal qualities of medical students predict in-course examination success and professional behaviour? An exploratory prospective cohort study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:69.
Over two-thirds of UK medical schools are augmenting their selection procedures for medical students by using the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT), which employs tests of cognitive and non-cognitive personal qualities, but clear evidence of the tests’ predictive validity is lacking. This study explores whether academic performance and professional behaviours that are important in a health professional context can be predicted by these measures, when taken before or very early in the medical course.
This prospective cohort study follows the progress of the entire student cohort who entered Hull York Medical School in September 2007, having taken the UKCAT cognitive tests in 2006 and the non-cognitive tests a year later. This paper reports on the students’ first and second academic years of study. The main outcome measures were regular, repeated tutor assessment of individual students’ interpersonal skills and professional behaviour, and annual examination performance in the three domains of recall and application of knowledge, evaluation of data, and communication and practical clinical skills. The relationships between non-cognitive test scores, cognitive test scores, tutor assessments and examination results were explored using the Pearson product–moment correlations for each group of data; the data for students obtaining the top and bottom 20% of the summative examination results were compared using Analysis of Variance.
Personal qualities measured by non-cognitive tests showed a number of statistically significant relationships with ratings of behaviour made by tutors, with performance in each year’s objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), and with themed written summative examination marks in each year. Cognitive ability scores were also significantly related to each year’s examination results, but seldom to professional behaviours. The top 20% of examination achievers could be differentiated from the bottom 20% on both non-cognitive and cognitive measures.
This study shows numerous significant relationships between both cognitive and non-cognitive test scores, academic examination scores and indicators of professional behaviours in medical students. This suggests that measurement of non-cognitive personal qualities in applicants to medical school could make a useful contribution to selection and admission decisions. Further research is required in larger representative groups, and with more refined predictor measures and behavioural assessment methods, to establish beyond doubt the incremental validity of such measures over conventional cognitive assessments.
PMCID: PMC3473297  PMID: 22873571
9.  Teaching of evidence-based medicine to medical students in Mexico: a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:107.
Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) is an important competency for the healthcare professional. Experimental evidence of EBM educational interventions from rigorous research studies is limited. The main objective of this study was to assess EBM learning (knowledge, attitudes and self-reported skills) in undergraduate medical students with a randomized controlled trial.
The educational intervention was a one-semester EBM course in the 5th year of a public medical school in Mexico. The study design was an experimental parallel group randomized controlled trial for the main outcome measures in the 5th year class (M5 EBM vs. M5 non-EBM groups), and quasi-experimental with static-groups comparisons for the 4th year (M4, not yet exposed) and 6th year (M6, exposed 6 months to a year earlier) groups. EBM attitudes, knowledge and self-reported skills were measured using Taylor’s questionnaire and a summative exam which comprised of a 100-item multiple-choice question (MCQ) test.
289 Medical students were assessed: M5 EBM=48, M5 non-EBM=47, M4=87, and M6=107. There was a higher reported use of the Cochrane Library and secondary journals in the intervention group (M5 vs. M5 non-EBM). Critical appraisal skills and attitude scores were higher in the intervention group (M5) and in the group of students exposed to EBM instruction during the previous year (M6). The knowledge level was higher after the intervention in the M5 EBM group compared to the M5 non-EBM group (p<0.001, Cohen's d=0.88 with Taylor's instrument and 3.54 with the 100-item MCQ test). M6 Students that received the intervention in the previous year had a knowledge score higher than the M4 and M5 non-EBM groups, but lower than the M5 EBM group.
Formal medical student training in EBM produced higher scores in attitudes, knowledge and self-reported critical appraisal skills compared with a randomized control group. Data from the concurrent groups add validity evidence to the study, but rigorous follow-up needs to be done to document retention of EBM abilities.
PMCID: PMC3511203  PMID: 23131115
Evidence-based medicine; Undergraduate medical education; Curriculum development; Educational assessment; Critical appraisal skills
10.  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
11.  International web survey of chiropractic students about evidence-based practice: a pilot study 
Positive attitude toward evidence-based practice (EBP) principles in healthcare education may be one of the first steps for motivating a healthcare professional student to later apply EBP principles in clinical decision-making. The objectives for this project were to pilot an international web-based survey of chiropractic students and to describe student attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge about EBP principles.
We used SurveyMonkey™ to develop our survey based on an existing questionnaire used to measure basic knowledge, skills and beliefs about EBP among allied healthcare professionals and CAM practitioners. We invited 26 chiropractic educational institutions teaching in English and accredited by official organizations to participate. Academic officials and registrars at participating institutions forwarded an invitation email and two reminders to students between July and September 2010. The invitation contained a link to the 38-item web-based questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were performed for analysis.
Fourteen institutions from Australia, Canada, US, Denmark and New Zealand participated. Among an estimated 7,142 student recipients of invitation letters, 674 participated in the survey for an estimated response rate of 9.4%. Most respondents reported having access to medical/healthcare literature through the internet, but only 11% read literature every week and 21% did not read literature at all. Respondents generally agreed that the use of research evidence in chiropractic was important. Although 76% of respondents found it easy to understand research evidence and 81% had some level of confidence assessing the general worth of research articles, 71% felt they needed more training in EBP to be able to apply evidence in chiropractic care. Respondents without previous training in research methods had lower confidence in assessing published papers. While more than 60% marked the correct answer for two knowledge items, the mean number of correct answers to the five knowledge questions was 1.3 (SD 0.9).
Although it is feasible to conduct an international web survey of chiropractic students, significant stakeholder participation is important to improve response rates. Students had relatively positive attitudes toward EBP. However, participants felt they needed more training in EBP and based on the knowledge questions they may need further training about basic research concepts.
PMCID: PMC3058064  PMID: 21371309
12.  Comparing validity of Edinburgh scale and SRQ20 in screening for post-partum depression 
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is the instrument most used worldwide for screening of Post-Partum Depression (PPD). The SRQ20 questionnaire has been largely used for screening of minor psychiatric disorders. This study aimed to compare the accuracy of the two instruments in screening for PPD. At the third-month follow-up home visit to infants of the 2004 Pelotas Birth Cohort, Southern Brazil, a sub-sample of 378 mothers was selected. Among other questions, EPDS and SRQ20 were applied by trained fieldworkers. Up to 15 days later, a mental health professional re-interviewed the mother (the gold standard interview). Sensitivity and specificity of each cutoff point were calculated for EPDS and SRQ20 and the results were plotted at a ROC curve. The areas under both curves were compared. Highest sensitivity and specificity cutoff were observed for EPDS ≥ 10 (sensitivity 82.7%, 95%CI 74.0 – 89.4; specificity 65.3%, 95%CI 59.4 – 71.0) and for SRQ20 ≥ 6 (sensitivity 70.5%, 95%CI 60.8 – 79.0%; specificity 75.5%, 95%CI 70.0 – 80.5%). Shape of ROC curves and areas under both curves were virtually identical (respectively, 0.8401 ± 0.02 for EPDS and 0.8402 ± 0.02 for SRQ20; p = 0.9). In conclusion SRQ20 showed to be as valid as EPDS as a screening tool for PPD at third month after delivery.
PMCID: PMC2233608  PMID: 17903254
13.  Medical students’ perceptions of an emergency medicine clerkship: an analysis of self-assessment surveys 
No studies have been performed that evaluate the perceptions of medical students completing an emergency medicine (EM) clerkship. Given the variability of exposure to EM in medical schools nationwide, assessment of the student rotation may inform the structure and content of new and existing clerkships, particularly in relation to student’s acquisition of the core competencies.
To investigate whether undergraduate medical students rotating through an EM clerkship improved their understanding and abilities in core content areas and common procedural skills; to evaluate whether improvement was affected by rotation length.
All students participating in an EM clerkship over a 12-month period were asked to complete an anonymous voluntary pre- and post-rotation survey. Confidence with patient assessment, diagnosis, and management plans; trauma and medical resuscitations; formal and informal presentations; basic procedure skills and understanding of the modern practice of EM were self assessed using a Likert scale. Group mean scores on each question on the pre- and post-clerkship surveys were calculated and compared. The mean scores on each survey item, both pre- and post-clerkship, were compared between 2- and 4-week clerkship rotation groups.
Two hundred thirty-nine students participated in the rotation during the 12 months of the study. One hundred sixty-one (161), or 67.4%, completed the pre-rotation survey, and 96 (40.2%) completed the post-rotation survey. Overall, students showed significant mean gains in confidence with initial patient assessment, diagnosis, and management plans (p < 0.01, 0.02, <0.01) and with basic procedure skills (p < 0.01 for all). Students completing a 2-week rotation did not differ significantly from f4week rotators in confidence levels, except in the area of formal presentation skills (p = 0.01), where the 4-week students demonstrated a statistically significant advantage. The 2-week clerkship participants were significantly less confident in all procedures except EKG interpretation, splinting, and venipuncture (p = 0.28, 0.22, 0.05). Regardless of rotation length, students generally felt they had sufficient exposure to patients and opportunities for hands-on learning and practice, and overwhelmingly would recommend the EM clerkship to a fellow student, regardless of their chosen specialty.
Medical students show significant gains in confidence with acute care knowledge, disease management, and procedure skills after completion of an EM clerkship. Although a 4-week clerkship may be preferable to expose students to the widest variety of patients and procedures, all students can benefit and improve in core competencies after an EM undergraduate experience.
PMCID: PMC3419087  PMID: 22647269
14.  Becoming a Good Doctor: Perceived Need for Ethics Training Focused on Practical and Professional Development Topics 
Ethics training has become a core component of medical student and resident education. Curricula have been developed without the benefit of data regarding the views of physicians-in-training on the need for ethics instruction that focuses on practical issues and professional development topics.
A written survey was sent to all medical students and PGY1-3 residents at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. The survey consisted of eight demographic questions and 124 content questions in 10 domains. Responses to a set of 24 items related to ethically important dilemmas, which may occur in the training period and subsequent professional practice, are reported. Items were each rated on a 9-point scale addressing the level of educational attention needed compared to the amount currently provided.
Survey respondents included 200 medical students (65% response) and 136 residents (58% response). Trainees, regardless of level of training or clinical discipline, perceived a need for more academic attention directed at practical ethical and professional dilemmas present during training and the practice of medicine. Women expressed a desire for more education directed at both training-based and practice-based ethical dilemmas when compared to men. A simple progression of interest in ethics topics related to level of medical training was not found. Residents in diverse clinical specialties differed in, perceived ethics educational needs. Psychiatry residents reported a need for enhanced education directed toward training stage ethics problems.
This study documents the importance placed on ethics education directed at practical real-world dilemmas and ethically important professional developmental issues by physicians-in-training. Academic medicine may be better able to fulfill its responsibilities in teaching ethics and professionalism and in serving its trainees by paying greater attention to these topics in undergraduate and graduate medical curricula.
PMCID: PMC1599855  PMID: 16141129
15.  Health-promoting factors in medical students and students of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: design and baseline results of a comparative longitudinal study 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:134.
The negative impact of medical school on students' general and mental health has often been reported. Compared to students of other subjects, or employed peers, medical students face an increased risk of developing depression, anxiety and burnout. While pathogenetic factors have been studied extensively, less is known about health-promoting factors for medical students' health. This longitudinal study aims to identify predictors for maintaining good general and mental health during medical education. We report here the design of the study and its baseline results.
We initiated a prospective longitudinal cohort study at the University of Lübeck, Germany. Two consecutive classes of students, entering the university in 2011 and 2012, were recruited. Participants will be assessed annually for the duration of their course. We use validated psychometric instruments covering health outcomes (general and mental health) and personality traits, as well as self-developed, pre-tested items covering leisure activities and sociodemographic data.
At baseline, compared to students of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects (n = 531; 60.8% response rate), a larger proportion of medical students (n = 350; 93.0% response rate) showed good general health (90.9% vs. 79.7%) and a similar proportion was in good mental health (88.3% vs. 86.3%). Medical students scored significantly higher in the personality traits of extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to experience and agreeableness. Neuroticism proved to be a statistically significant negative predictor for mental health in the logistic regression analyses. Satisfaction with life as a dimension of study-related behaviour and experience predicted general health at baseline. Physical activity was a statistically significant predictor for general health in medical students.
Baseline data revealed that medical students reported better general and similar mental health compared to STEM students. The annual follow-up questionnaires, combined with qualitative approaches, should clarify wether these differences reflect a higher resilience, a tendency to neglect personal health problems - as has been described for physicians - before entering medical school, or both. The final results may aid decision-makers in developing health-promotion programmes for medical students.
PMCID: PMC4096732  PMID: 24996637
Medical students; Medical education; Mental health; Health promotion; Prevention; Personality assessment
16.  Manchester Clinical Placement Index (MCPI). Conditions for medical students’ learning in hospital and community placements 
The drive to quality-manage medical education has created a need for valid measurement instruments. Validity evidence includes the theoretical and contextual origin of items, choice of response processes, internal structure, and interrelationship of a measure’s variables. This research set out to explore the validity and potential utility of an 11-item measurement instrument, whose theoretical and empirical origins were in an Experience Based Learning model of how medical students learn in communities of practice (COPs), and whose contextual origins were in a community-oriented, horizontally integrated, undergraduate medical programme. The objectives were to examine the psychometric properties of the scale in both hospital and community COPs and provide validity evidence to support using it to measure the quality of placements. The instrument was administered twice to students learning in both hospital and community placements and analysed using exploratory factor analysis and a generalizability analysis. 754 of a possible 902 questionnaires were returned (84% response rate), representing 168 placements. Eight items loaded onto two factors, which accounted for 78% of variance in the hospital data and 82% of variance in the community data. One factor was the placement learning environment, whose five constituent items were how learners were received at the start of the placement, people’s supportiveness, and the quality of organisation, leadership, and facilities. The other factor represented the quality of training—instruction in skills, observing students performing skills, and providing students with feedback. Alpha coefficients ranged between 0.89 and 0.93 and there were no redundant or ambiguous items. Generalisability analysis showed that between 7 and 11 raters would be needed to achieve acceptable reliability. There is validity evidence to support using the simple 8-item, mixed methods Manchester Clinical Placement Index to measure key conditions for undergraduate medical students’ experience based learning: the quality of the learning environment and the training provided within it. Its conceptual orientation is towards Communities of Practice, which is a dominant contemporary theory in undergraduate medical education.
PMCID: PMC3490061  PMID: 22234383
Workplace learning; Learning environment; Evaluation; Communities of practice; Experience based learning
17.  Professional attitudes and behaviors acquired during undergraduate education in the College of Dentistry, King Saud University 
The Saudi Dental Journal  2013;25(2):69-74.
The purpose of the study was to investigate and evaluate the professional attitudes and behaviors acquired by students and recently graduated dentists during undergraduate education at King Saud University.
This cross-sectional survey used a 27-item questionnaire covering four cumulative theoretical dimensions of professionalism. Questionnaires were distributed to fifth-year students, interns, and demonstrators in the College of Dentistry during the academic year 2010–2011, and 203 completed questionnaires were used in analyses. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize responses. Crosstab and chi-squared tests were used, with statistical significance set at P < 0.05.
The response rate was 79.3% (43.6% of males, 94% of females). Eighty-seven questionnaires were collected from fifth-year students, 92 from interns, and 24 from demonstrators. Many (59%) participants demonstrated high levels of professional attitudes and behaviors, whereas 40% did not comply with the elements of professionalism. Analyses revealed highly significant differences in certain responses with regard to gender, academic level, and grade point average.
Although some participants did not possess all professional qualities, all participants possessed at least some elements of professionalism measured in this study. We thus recommend a strategic effort to develop targeted plans emphasizing professionalism at all levels of the dental school curriculum. High-profile role modeling, lectures, seminars, and academic ceremonies are ways of achieving professional development among dental students in parallel with their acquisition of basic scientific knowledge and clinical skills. This approach will formally and informally communicate that professionalism is a core value.
PMCID: PMC3723254  PMID: 23960558
Professionalism; Attitudes; Behavior
18.  Mental health and behaviour of students of public health and their correlation with social support: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:871.
Future public health professionals are especially important among students partly because their credibility in light of their professional messages and activities will be tested daily by their clients; and partly because health professionals' own lifestyle habits influence their attitudes and professional activities. A better understanding of public health students' health and its determinants is necessary for improving counselling services and tailoring them to demand. Our aim was to survey public health students' health status and behaviour with a focus on mental health.
A cross-sectional study was carried out among public health students at 1-5-years (N = 194) with a self-administered questionnaire that included standardized items on demographic data, mental wellbeing characterized by sense of coherence (SoC) and psychological morbidity, as well as health behaviour and social support. Correlations between social support and the variables for mental health, health status and health behaviour were characterized by pairwise correlation.
The response rate was 75% and represented students by study year, sex and age in the Faculty. Nearly half of the students were non-smokers, more than one quarter smoked daily. Almost one-fifth of the students suffered from notable psychological distress. The proportion of these students decreased from year 1 to 5. The mean score for SoC was 60.1 and showed an increasing trend during the academic years. 29% of the students lacked social support from their student peers. Significant positive correlation was revealed between social support and variables for mental health. Psychological distress was greater among female public health students than in the same age female group of the general population; whereas the lack of social support was a more prevalent problem among male students.
Health status and behaviour of public health students is similar to their non-students peers except for their worse mental health. Future public health professionals should be better prepared for coping with the challenges they face during their studies. Universities must facilitate this process by providing helping services targeted at those with highest risk, and developing training to improve coping skills. Social support is also a potentially amenable determinant of mental health during higher education.
PMCID: PMC3271050  PMID: 22087581
19.  Evaluation of the Symptom Representation Questionnaire (SRQ) for Assessing Cancer-Related Symptoms 
Multi-dimensional, multi-symptom approaches to cancer symptom assessment and management have been emphasized across health disciplines. However, each dimension that is assessed significantly increases patient/subject burden. Efficient, reliable, and valid assessment of the critical dimensions of patients’ most salient symptoms is important in clinical and research settings. The Symptom Representation Questionnaire (SRQ), derived from information processing theory, assesses critical cognitive and emotional factors that are known to influence coping and outcomes. The SRQ was developed and evaluated in a three-phase process: 1) item selection, modification, and review by theoretical and clinical experts; 2) pilot evaluation of feasibility and psychometric properties; and 3) large sample psychometric evaluation. In phase three, members (n=713) of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition participated via mailed surveys. Internal consistency was good for all subscales (α= 0.63 – 0.88). The internal structure of the SRQ was theoretically consistent except that emotional representation, identity, and consequence items all loaded onto a single factor. Between-group comparisons supported construct validity: representations differed between long-term survivors and women with active disease. Finally, there were significant correlations between SRQ subscales and Symptom Interference and Life Satisfaction. The SRQ appears to be a psychometrically sound instrument for assessing representations of cancer-related symptoms. This instrument could play an essential role in advancing knowledge of the relationships among representations of symptoms, symptom management processes, and symptom related outcomes. It could also be used in intervention research when changes in symptom representations are hypothesized to mediate changes in outcomes as a result of psycho-educational interventions.
PMCID: PMC2408721  PMID: 18201866
Symptom assessment; illness representations; symptom management; ovarian cancer; cancer
20.  Senior medical student perceived ability and experience in giving peer feedback in formative long case examinations 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:79.
Learning to provide feedback on a peer’s performance in formative clinical assessments can be a valuable way of enriching the students’ own learning experience. Students are often reluctant to provide honest, critical feedback to their peers. Nevertheless, it is an area of practice that is important to develop as students report feeling ill prepared in feedback techniques when entering the medical workforce. We sought to investigate students’ perceptions of their ability to provide feedback to their peers using the positive critique method, and their perceived benefits and challenges during the experience.
Over a two year period (2011 to 2012), senior medical students assessed and gave feedback to their peers alongside academic examiners during formative long case clinical examinations. Rating scales, open ended questions and focus group discussions were used to evaluate student perceptions.
Of the 94 participants, 89/94 (95%) completed the questionnaire, and 39/94 (41%) participated in focus groups. Students found the positive critique method provided a useful framework. Some students raised concerns about the accuracy of their feedback, and felt that further training was required. A substantial number of respondents (42%) did not report feeling confident providing negative feedback to their peers, and qualitative analysis indicated concerns around potential impacts on social relationships. Despite these concerns, the majority (90%) of respondents found the exercise useful, identifying several benefits, including development in the understanding of knowledge content; development of professionalism skills, and increased responsibility.
Students identified several challenging aspects to providing feedback to their peers. While the experience of giving feedback to peers was perceived by students to provide a valuable learning experience, further training in this area may help to improve the learning experience for students and better prepare them for their future careers.
PMCID: PMC3679984  PMID: 23725417
21.  An interprofessional approach to improving paediatric medication safety 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:19.
Safe drug prescribing and administration are essential elements within undergraduate healthcare curricula, but medication errors, especially in paediatric practice, continue to compromise patient safety. In this area of clinical care, collective responsibility, team working and communication between health professionals have been identified as key elements in safe clinical practice. To date, there is limited research evidence as to how best to deliver teaching and learning of these competencies to practitioners of the future.
An interprofessional workshop to facilitate learning of knowledge, core competencies, communication and team working skills in paediatric drug prescribing and administration at undergraduate level was developed and evaluated. The practical, ward-based workshop was delivered to 4th year medical and 3rd year nursing students and evaluated using a pre and post workshop questionnaire with open-ended response questions.
Following the workshop, students reported an increase in their knowledge and awareness of paediatric medication safety and the causes of medication errors (p < 0.001), with the greatest increase noted among medical students. Highly significant changes in students' attitudes to shared learning were observed, indicating that safe medication practice is learnt more effectively with students from other healthcare disciplines. Qualitative data revealed that students' participation in the workshop improved communication and teamworking skills, and led to greater awareness of the role of other healthcare professionals.
This study has helped bridge the knowledge-skills gap, demonstrating how an interprofessional approach to drug prescribing and administration has the potential to improve quality and safety within healthcare.
PMCID: PMC2834694  PMID: 20170498
22.  Development and psychometric evaluation of scales to measure professional confidence in manual medicine: a Rasch measurement approach 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:338.
Health professionals in athletic training, chiropractic, osteopathy, and physiotherapy fields, require high-level knowledge and skills in their assessment and management of patients. This is important when communicating with patients and applying a range of manual procedures. Prior to embarking on professional practice, it is imperative to acquire optimal situation-specific levels of self-confidence for a beginner practitioner in these areas. In order to foster this professional self-confidence within the higher education context, it is necessary to have valid and reliable scales that can measure and track levels and how they change. This study reports on the development and psychometric analysis of two new scales, Patient Communication Confidence Scale (PCCS) and the Clinical Skills Confidence Scale (CSCS), to measure confidence in these two areas for students in manual medicine programs. The Rasch measurement model was used to guide the development of the scales and establish their psychometric properties.
The responses to 269 returned questionnaires over two occasions were submitted to psychometric analysis, with various aspects of the scales examined including: item thresholds; item fit; Differential Item Functioning; targeting; item locations; item dependencies; and reliability. To provide further evidence of validity, scores were correlated with two existing valid scales.
Analyses showed that the scales provided valid and reliable measures of confidence for this sample of persons. High Person Separation Indices (0.96 for PCCS; 0.93 for SCSC) provided statistical evidence of reliability, meaning the scales are able to discriminate amongst persons with different levels of confidence. For the PCCS, item categories were operating as required, and for the CSCS only two items’ thresholds were slightly disordered. Three tests of fit revealed good fit to the model (indicating the internal consistency of both scales) and results of the correlations with two existing valid scales were consistent with expectations.
The importance of confidence cannot be overlooked in health education because students learning new information and skills, and dealing with challenging situations can be negatively impacted by a lack of confidence which can result in students disengaging from placements or leaving a program. Valid and reliable instruments are essential in tracking change in levels of confidence in specific skills over time and the examination of the degree of congruence between confidence and competence. Analysis of responses to the two confidence scales established that they are valid and reliable instruments.
PMCID: PMC4054924  PMID: 24899372
Confidence; Communication; Clinical skills; Rasch measurement model; Manual medicine
23.  Deliberate Apprenticeship in the Pediatric Emergency Department Improves Experience for Third-year Students 
The Pediatric Emergency Department (PED) provides medical students with learning in a high-volume, fast-paced environment; characteristics that can be stressful for new students. Shadowing can improve transitioning, yet this alone does not facilitate students’ development of independent medical care competencies. This study evaluates if third-year medical students’ deliberate apprenticeship with senior residents increases students’ comfort and patient exposure in the PED.
This study took place over the 2011–2012 academic year, and study participants were all third-year medical students during their pediatric clerkship rotation. This was a prospective educational intervention assigning students to randomized control blocks of deliberate apprenticeship (DA) intervention or control. DA students were paired with a senior resident who oriented and worked with the student, while control students were unpaired. All students completed a 20-question structured survey at shift end, which included questions about their perception of the learning environment, comfort with, and number of patient care responsibilities performed. We used independent Mann-Whitney and t-tests to compare experiences between the groups. Statistical significance was defined as p<0.05. We used the constant comparative method to qualitatively analyze students’ comments.
Response rate was 85% (145/169). Students also rated on 5-point Likert-scale their level of comfort with defined aspects of working in the PED. DA students (n=76) were significantly more comfortable obtaining histories (4.2 versus 3.8) and formulating differential diagnoses (3.9 versus 3.4). DA students also performed more physical exams (2.9 versus 2.4). We categorized themes from the qualitative analysis of the students’ comments about their PED experience. The titles for these themes are as follows: PED provides a good learning experience; uncertainty about the medical student’s role in the PED; third-year medical students compete with other learners for teaching attention; opportunities provided to medical students for inclusion in patient care; personal knowledge deficits limit the ability to participate in the PED; PED pace affects learning opportunities.
DA constitutes a feasible approach to the clinical learning environment that increases students’ patient care experiences and may ease transitioning for undergraduate medical students to new clinical environments.
PMCID: PMC4100848  PMID: 25035748
24.  Promises and hurdles of undergraduate medical development in Greece 
In this paper we sought to explore undergraduate medical students’ views about their professional development during their studies that are considered to be related to medical professionalism.
A descriptive cross-sectional study using interpretative analysis of anonymous 10-item questionnaires was conducted at the University of Patras Medical School (UPMS), Greece. The study sample consisted of 134 undergraduate students in their fifth and sixth year of study at UPMS.
Undergraduate students emphasized the great significance of daily clinically-oriented practice in the wards in the group of behaviors consistent with medical professionalism. The integrated curriculum and informal discussions with members of the academic staff in the form of role models were also regarded as valuable approaches strongly enhancing professionalism. Students’ personal statements contained attributes regarding premium professional skills, including constancy and perfectionism throughout a lifelong learning process, so as to be able to provide high quality medical care to patients.
According to our undergraduate medical students themselves, the last 2 years of their studies are important to understand the essence of professionalism and develop their professional medical attitudes. Clinically-oriented teaching activities together with the informal curriculum of enhanced role modeling promote medical professional behaviors and increase standards of health care provided to patients.
PMCID: PMC3661258  PMID: 23745091
undergraduate students; medicine; professionalism; medical education; Greece
25.  A holistic review of the medical school admission process: examining correlates of academic underperformance 
Medical Education Online  2014;19:10.3402/meo.v19.22919.
Despite medical school admission committees’ best efforts, a handful of seemingly capable students invariably struggle during their first year of study. Yet, even as entrance criteria continue to broaden beyond cognitive qualifications, attention inevitably reverts back to such factors when seeking to understand these phenomena. Using a host of applicant, admission, and post-admission variables, the purpose of this inductive study, then, was to identify a constellation of student characteristics that, taken collectively, would be predictive of students at-risk of underperforming during the first year of medical school. In it, we hypothesize that a wider range of factors than previously recognized could conceivably play roles in understanding why students experience academic problems early in the medical educational continuum.
The study sample consisted of the five most recent matriculant cohorts from a large, southeastern medical school (n=537). Independent variables reflected: 1) the personal demographics of applicants (e.g., age, gender); 2) academic criteria (e.g., undergraduate grade point averages [GPA], medical college admission test); 3) selection processes (e.g., entrance track, interview scores, committee votes); and 4) other indicators of personality and professionalism (e.g., Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test™ emotional intelligence scores, NEO PI-R™ personality profiles, and appearances before the Professional Code Committee [PCC]). The dependent variable, first-year underperformance, was defined as ANY action (repeat, conditionally advance, or dismiss) by the college's Student Progress and Promotions Committee (SPPC) in response to predefined academic criteria. This study protocol was approved by the local medical institutional review board (IRB).
Of the 537 students comprising the study sample, 61 (11.4%) met the specified criterion for academic underperformance. Significantly increased academic risks were identified among students who 1) had lower mean undergraduate science GPAs (OR=0.24, p=0.001); 2) entered medical school via an accelerated BS/MD track (OR=16.15, p=0.002); 3) were 31 years of age or older (OR=14.76, p=0.005); and 4) were non-unanimous admission committee admits (OR=0.53, p=0.042). Two dimensions of the NEO PI-R™ personality inventory, openness (+) and conscientiousness (−), were modestly but significantly correlated with academic underperformance. Only for the latter, however, were mean scores found to differ significantly between academic performers and underperformers. Finally, appearing before the college's PCC (OR=4.21, p=0.056) fell just short of statistical significance.
Our review of various correlates across the matriculation process highlights the heterogeneity of factors underlying students’ underperformance during the first year of medical school and challenges medical educators to understand the complexity of predicting who, among admitted matriculants, may be at future academic risk.
PMCID: PMC3974177  PMID: 24695362
admissions; underperformance; selection; at-risk students

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