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1.  Managing the complexity of doing it all: an exploratory study on students’ experiences when trained stepwise in conducting consultations 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):206.
Background
At most medical schools the components required to conduct a consultation, medical knowledge, communication, clinical reasoning and physical examination skills, are trained separately. Afterwards, all the knowledge and skills students acquired must be integrated into complete consultations, an art that lies at the heart of the medical profession. Inevitably, students experience conducting consultations as complex and challenging. Literature emphasizes the importance of three didactic course principles: moving from partial tasks to whole task learning, diminishing supervisors’ support and gradually increasing students’ responsibility. This study explores students’ experiences of an integrated consultation course using these three didactic principles to support them in this difficult task.
Methods
Six focus groups were conducted with 20 pre-clerkship and 19 clerkship students in total. Discussions were audiotaped, transcribed and analysed by Nvivo using the constant comparative strategy within a thematic analysis.
Results
Conducting complete consultations motivated students in their learning process as future physician. Initially, students were very much focused on medical problem solving. Completing the whole task of a consultation obligated them to transfer their theoretical medical knowledge into applicable clinical knowledge on the spot. Furthermore, diminishing the support of a supervisor triggered students to reflect on their own actions but contrasted with their increased appreciation of critical feedback. Increasing students’ responsibility stimulated their active learning but made some students feel overloaded. These students were anxious to miss patient information or not being able to take the right decisions or to answer patients’ questions, which sometimes resulted in evasive coping techniques, such as talking faster to prevent the patient asking questions.
Conclusion
The complex task of conducting complete consultations should be implemented early within medical curricula because students need time to organize their medical knowledge into applicable clinical knowledge. An integrated consultation course should comprise a step-by-step teaching strategy with a variety of supervisors’ feedback modi, adapted to students’ competence. Finally, students should be guided in formulating achievable standards to prevent them from feeling overloaded in practicing complete consultations with simulated or real patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-206) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-206
PMCID: PMC4181426  PMID: 25257383
Conducting complete consultations; Didactic course principles; MeSH terms; Education; Medical; Undergraduate; Clinical competence; Physician-patient relations; Professional practice
2.  Evaluation of Modified Essay Questions (MEQ) and Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) as a tool for Assessing the Cognitive Skills of Undergraduate Medical Students 
Objectives:
Developing and testing the cognitive skills and abstract thinking of undergraduate medical students are the main objectives of problem based learning. Modified Essay Questions (MEQ) and Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) may both be designed to test these skills. The objectives of this study were to assess the effectiveness of both forms of questions in testing the different levels of the cognitive skills of undergraduate medical students and to detect any item writing flaws in the questions.
Methods:
A total of 50 MEQs and 50 MCQs were evaluated. These questions were chosen randomly from various examinations given to different batches of undergraduate medical students taking course MED 411–412 at the Department of Medicine, Qassim University from the years 2005 to 2009. The effectiveness of the questions was determined by two assessors and was defined by the question’s ability to measure higher cognitive skills, as determined by modified Bloom’s taxonomy, and its quality as determined by the presence of item writing flaws. ‘SPSS15’ and ‘Medcalc’ programs were used to tabulate and analyze the data.
Results:
The percentage of questions testing the level III (problem solving) cognitive skills of the students was 40% for MEQs and 60% for the MCQs; the remaining questions merely assessed the recall and comprehension. No significant difference was found between MEQ and MCQ in relation to the type of questions (recall; comprehension or problem solving x2 = 5.3, p = 0.07).The agreement between the two assessors was quite high in case of MCQ (kappa=0.609; SE 0.093; 95%CI 0.426 – 0.792) but lower in case of MEQ (kappa=0.195; SE 0.073; 95%CI 0.052 – 0.338). 16% of the MEQs and 12% of the MCQs had item writing flaws.
Conclusion:
A well constructed MCQ is superior to MEQ in testing the higher cognitive skills of undergraduate medical students in a problem based learning setup. Constructing an MEQ for assessing the cognitive skills of a student is not a simple task and is more frequently associated with item writing flaws.
PMCID: PMC3312767  PMID: 22489228
Modified essay question; Multiple-choice question; Bloom’s Taxonomy; cognition
3.  Virtual Patients in Primary Care: Developing a Reusable Model That Fosters Reflective Practice and Clinical Reasoning 
Background
Primary care is an integral part of the medical curriculum at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. It is present at every stage of the students’ education. Virtual patients (VPs) may support learning processes and be a valuable complement in teaching communication skills, patient-centeredness, clinical reasoning, and reflective thinking. Current literature on virtual patients lacks reports on how to design and use virtual patients with a primary care perspective.
Objective
The objective of this study was to create a model for a virtual patient in primary care that facilitates medical students’ reflective practice and clinical reasoning. The main research question was how to design a virtual patient model with embedded process skills suitable for primary care education.
Methods
The VP model was developed using the Open Tufts University Sciences Knowledgebase (OpenTUSK) virtual patient system as a prototyping tool. Both the VP model and the case created using the developed model were validated by a group of 10 experienced primary care physicians and then further improved by a work group of faculty involved in the medical program. The students’ opinions on the VP were investigated through focus group interviews with 14 students and the results analyzed using content analysis.
Results
The VP primary care model was based on a patient-centered model of consultation modified according to the Calgary-Cambridge Guides, and the learning outcomes of the study program in medicine were taken into account. The VP primary care model is based on Kolb’s learning theories and consists of several learning cycles. Each learning cycle includes a didactic inventory and then provides the student with a concrete experience (video, pictures, and other material) and preformulated feedback. The students’ learning process was visualized by requiring the students to expose their clinical reasoning and reflections in-action in every learning cycle. Content analysis of the focus group interviews showed good acceptance of the model by students. The VP was regarded as an intermediate learning activity and a complement to both the theoretical and the clinical part of the education, filling out gaps in clinical knowledge. The content of the VP case was regarded as authentic and the students appreciated the immediate feedback. The students found the structure of the model interactive and easy to follow. The students also reported that the VP case supported their self-directed learning and reflective ability.
Conclusions
We have built a new VP model for primary care with embedded communication training and iterated learning cycles that in pilot testing showed good acceptance by students, supporting their self-directed learning and reflective thinking.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2616
PMCID: PMC3906652  PMID: 24394603
virtual patients; clinical reasoning; reflection; primary care; medical education
4.  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
5.  Poorer verbal working memory for a second language selectively impacts academic achievement in university medical students 
PeerJ  2013;1:e22.
Working memory (WM) is often poorer for a second language (L2). In low noise conditions, people listening to a language other than their first language (L1) may have similar auditory perception skills for that L2 as native listeners, but do worse in high noise conditions, and this has been attributed to the poorer WM for L2. Given that WM is critical for academic success in children and young adults, these speech in noise effects have implications for academic performance where the language of instruction is L2 for a student. We used a well-established Speech-in-Noise task as a verbal WM (vWM) test, and developed a model correlating vWM and measures of English proficiency and/or usage to scholastic outcomes in a multi-faceted assessment medical education program. Significant differences in Speech-Noise Ratio (SNR50 ) values were observed between medical undergraduates who had learned English before or after five years of age, with the latter group doing worse in the ability to extract whole connected speech in the presence of background multi-talker babble (Student-t tests, p < 0.001). Significant negative correlations were observed between the SNR50 and seven of the nine variables of English usage, learning styles, stress, and musical abilities in a questionnaire administered to the students previously. The remaining two variables, Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and the Age of Acquisition of English (AoAoE) were significantly positively correlated with the SNR50 , showing that those with a poorer capacity to discriminate simple English sentences from noise had learnt English later in life and had higher levels of stress – all characteristics of the international students. Local students exhibited significantly lower SNR50 scores and were significantly younger when they first learnt English. No significant correlation was detected between the SNR50 and the students’ Visual/Verbal Learning Style (r = −0.023). Standard multiple regression was carried out to assess the relationship between language proficiency and verbal working memory (SNR50 ) using 5 variables of L2 proficiency, with the results showing that the variance in SNR50 was significantly predicted by this model (r2 = 0.335). Hierarchical multiple regression was then used to test the ability of three independent variable measures (SNR50 , age of acquisition of English and English proficiency) to predict academic performance as the dependent variable in a factor analysis model which predicted significant performance differences in an assessment requiring communications skills (p = 0.008), but not on a companion assessment requiring knowledge of procedural skills, or other assessments requiring factual knowledge. Thus, impaired vWM for an L2 appears to affect specific communications-based assessments in university medical students.
doi:10.7717/peerj.22
PMCID: PMC3628612  PMID: 23638357
Medical education; International students; Working memory; Speech in noise; Assessment; OSCE; English as a second language
6.  The masked educator-innovative simulation in an Australian undergraduate Medical Sonography and Medical Imaging program 
Introduction
Clinical learning experiences for sonography and medical imaging students can sometimes involve the practice of technical procedures with less of a focus on developing communication skills with patients. Whilst patient-based simulation scenarios have been widely reported in other health education programmes, there is a paucity of research in sonography and medical imaging.
The aim of this study was to explore the effectiveness of Mask-Ed™ (KRS Simulation) in the learning and teaching of clinical communication skills to undergraduate medical sonography and medical imaging students. Mask-Ed™ (KRS Simulation) is a simulation technique where the educator is hidden behind wearable realistic silicone body props including masks.
Methods
Focus group interviews were conducted with 11 undergraduate medical sonography and medical imaging students at CQUniversity, Australia. The number of participants was limited to the size of the cohort of students enrolled in the course. Prior to these interviews participants were engaged in learning activities that featured the use of the Mask-Ed™ (KRS Simulation) method. Thematic analysis was employed to explore how the introduction of Mask-Ed™ (KRS Simulation) contributed to students' learning in relation to clinical communication skills.
Results
Key themes included: benefits of interacting with someone real rather than another student, learning made fun, awareness of empathy, therapeutic communication skills, engaged problem solving and purposeful reflection.
Conclusions
Mask-Ed™ (KRS Simulation) combined with interactive sessions with an expert facilitator, contributed positively to students' learning in relation to clinical communication skills. Participants believed that interacting with someone real, as in the Mask-Ed characters was beneficial. In addition to the learning being described as fun, participants gained an awareness of empathy, therapeutic communication skills, engaged problem solving and purposeful reflection.
doi:10.1002/jmrs.85
PMCID: PMC4282092  PMID: 25598976
Humanistic simulation; medical imaging; medical sonography; patient simulation
7.  A students’ survey of cultural competence as a basis for identifying gaps in the medical curriculum 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):216.
Background
Assessing the cultural competence of medical students that have completed the curriculum provides indications on the effectiveness of cultural competence training in that curriculum. However, existing measures for cultural competence mostly rely on self-perceived cultural competence. This paper describes the outcomes of an assessment of knowledge, reflection ability and self-reported culturally competent consultation behaviour, the relation between these assessments and self-perceived cultural competence, and the applicability of the results in the light of developing a cultural competence educational programme.
Methods
392 medical students, Youth Health Care (YHC) Physician Residents and their Physician Supervisors were invited to complete a web-based questionnaire that assessed three domains of cultural competence: 1) general knowledge of ethnic minority care provision and interpretation services; 2) reflection ability; and 3) culturally competent consultation behaviour. Additionally, respondents graded their overall self-perceived cultural competence on a 1–10 scale.
Results
86 medical students, 56 YHC Residents and 35 YHC Supervisors completed the questionnaire (overall response rate 41%; n= 177). On average, respondents scored low on general knowledge (mean 46% of maximum score) and knowledge of interpretation services (mean 55%) and much higher on reflection ability (80%). The respondents’ reports of their consultation behaviour reflected moderately adequate behaviour in exploring patients’ perspectives (mean 64%) and in interaction with low health literate patients (mean 60%) while the score on exploring patients’ social contexts was on average low (46%). YHC respondents scored higher than medical students on knowledge of interpretation services, exploring patients’ perspectives and exploring social contexts. The associations between self-perceived cultural competence and assessed knowledge, reflection ability and consultation behaviour were weak.
Conclusion
Assessing the cultural competence of medical students and physicians identified gaps in knowledge and culturally competent behaviour. Such data can be used to guide improvement efforts to the diversity content of educational curricula. Based on this study, improvements should focus on increasing knowledge and improving diversity-sensitive consultation behaviour and less on reflection skills. The weak association between overall self-perceived cultural competence and assessed knowledge, reflection ability and consultation behaviour supports the hypothesis that measures of sell-perceived competence are insufficient to assess actual cultural competence.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-216
PMCID: PMC4287427  PMID: 25305069
Cultural competence; Assessment; Curriculum development; Diversity education; Reflection ability; Consultation behaviour; Medical education
8.  Computer literacy among first year medical students in a developing country: A cross sectional study 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:504.
Background
The use of computer assisted learning (CAL) has enhanced undergraduate medical education. CAL improves performance at examinations, develops problem solving skills and increases student satisfaction. The study evaluates computer literacy among first year medical students in Sri Lanka.
Methods
The study was conducted at Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka between August-September 2008. First year medical students (n = 190) were invited for the study. Data on computer literacy and associated factors were collected by an expert-validated pre-tested self-administered questionnaire. Computer literacy was evaluated by testing knowledge on 6 domains; common software packages, operating systems, database management and the usage of internet and E-mail. A linear regression was conducted using total score for computer literacy as the continuous dependant variable and other independent covariates.
Results
Sample size-181 (Response rate-95.3%), 49.7% were Males. Majority of the students (77.3%) owned a computer (Males-74.4%, Females-80.2%). Students have gained their present computer knowledge by; a formal training programme (64.1%), self learning (63.0%) or by peer learning (49.2%). The students used computers for predominately; word processing (95.6%), entertainment (95.0%), web browsing (80.1%) and preparing presentations (76.8%). Majority of the students (75.7%) expressed their willingness for a formal computer training programme at the faculty.
Mean score for the computer literacy questionnaire was 48.4 ± 20.3, with no significant gender difference (Males-47.8 ± 21.1, Females-48.9 ± 19.6). There were 47.9% students that had a score less than 50% for the computer literacy questionnaire. Students from Colombo district, Western Province and Student owning a computer had a significantly higher mean score in comparison to other students (p < 0.001). In the linear regression analysis, formal computer training was the strongest predictor of computer literacy (β = 13.034), followed by using internet facility, being from Western province, using computers for Web browsing and computer programming, computer ownership and doing IT (Information Technology) as a subject in GCE (A/L) examination.
Conclusion
Sri Lankan medical undergraduates had a low-intermediate level of computer literacy. There is a need to improve computer literacy, by increasing computer training in schools, or by introducing computer training in the initial stages of the undergraduate programme. These two options require improvement in infrastructure and other resources.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-504
PMCID: PMC3517310  PMID: 22980096
Computer literacy; Medical undergraduates; Sri Lanka; Developing country
9.  An appraisal of students' awareness of "self-reflection" in a first-year pathology course of undergraduate medical/dental education 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:67.
Background
Self-reflection and reflective practice are increasingly considered as essential attributes of competent professionals functioning in complex and ever-changing healthcare systems of the 21st century. The aim of this study was to determine the extent of students' awareness and understanding of the reflective process and the meaning of 'self-reflection' within the contextual framework of their learning environment in the first-year of their medical/dental education. We endorse that the introduction of such explicit educational tasks at this early stage enhances and promotes students' awareness, understanding, and proficiency of this skill in their continuing life-long health professional learning.
Methods
Over two years, students registered in first-year pathology at the University of Saskatchewan were introduced to a self-reflection assignment which comprised in the submission of a one-page reflective document to a template of reflective questions provided in the given context of their learning environment. This was a mandatory but ungraded component at the midterm and final examinations. These documents were individually analyzed and thematically categorized to a "5 levels-of-reflection-awareness" scale using a specially-designed rubric based on the accepted major theories of reflection that included students' identification of: 1) personal abilities, 2) personal learning styles 3) relationships between course material and student history 4) emotional responses and 5) future applications.
Results
410 self-reflection documents were analyzed. The student self-awareness on personal learning style (72.7% level 3+) and course content (55.2% level 3+) were well-reflected. Reflections at a level 1 awareness included identification of a) specific teaching strategies utilized to enhance learning (58.4%), b) personal strengths/weaknesses (53%), and c) emotional responses, values, and beliefs (71.5%). Students' abilities to connect information to life experiences and to future events with understanding were more evenly distributed across all 5 levels of reflection-awareness.
Conclusions
Exposure to self-reflection assignments in the early years of undergraduate medical education increases student awareness and promotes the creation of personal meaning of one's reactions, values, and premises in the context of student learning environments. Early introduction with repetition to such cognitive processes as practice tools increases engagement in reflection that may facilitate proficiency in mastering this competency leading to the creation of future reflective health professionals.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-67
PMCID: PMC3187722  PMID: 21943239
10.  Virtual microscopy system at Chinese medical university: an assisted teaching platform for promoting active learning and problem-solving skills 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:74.
Background
Chinese medical universities typically have a high number of students, a shortage of teachers and limited equipment, and as such histology courses have been taught using traditional lecture-based formats, with textbooks and conventional microscopy. This method, however, has reduced creativity and problem-solving skills training in the curriculum. The virtual microscope (VM) system has been shown to be an effective and efficient educational strategy. The present study aims to describe a VM system for undergraduates and to evaluate the effects of promoting active learning and problem-solving skills.
Methods
Two hundred and twenty-nine second-year undergraduate students in the Third Military Medical University were divided into two groups. The VM group contained 115 students and was taught using the VM system. The light microscope (LM) group consisted of 114 students and was taught using the LM system. Post-teaching performances were assessed by multiple-choice questions, short essay questions, case analysis questions and the identification of structure of tissue. Students’ teaching preferences and satisfaction were assessed using questionnaires.
Results
Test scores in the VM group showed a significant improvement compared with those in the LM group (p < 0.05). There were no substantial differences between the two groups in the mean score rate of multiple-choice questions and the short essay category (p > 0.05); however, there were notable differences in the mean score rate of case analysis questions and identification of structure of tissue (p < 0.05). The questionnaire results indicate that the VM system improves students’ productivity and promotes learning efficiency. Furthermore, students reported other positive effects of the VM system in terms of additional learning resources, critical thinking, ease of communication and confidence.
Conclusions
The VM system is an effective tool at Chinese medical university to promote undergraduates’ active learning and problem-solving skills as an assisted teaching platform.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-74
PMCID: PMC4000431  PMID: 24712715
Virtual microscope; Active learning; Problem-solving skills; Assisted platform; Chinese medical university
11.  Art-making in a family medicine clerkship: how does it affect medical student empathy? 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):247.
Background
To provide patient-centred holistic care, doctors must possess good interpersonal and empathic skills. Medical schools traditionally adopt a skills-based approach to such training but creative engagement with the arts has also been effective. A novel arts-based approach may help medical students develop empathic understanding of patients and thus contribute to medical students’ transformative process into compassionate doctors. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of an arts-making workshop on medical student empathy.
Methods
This was a mixed-method quantitative-qualitative study. In the 2011–12 academic year, all 161 third year medical students at the University of Hong Kong were randomly allocated into either an arts-making workshop or a problem-solving workshop during the Family Medicine clerkship according to a centrally-set timetable. Students in the arts-making workshop wrote a poem, created artwork and completed a reflective essay while students in the conventional workshop problem-solved clinical cases and wrote a case commentary. All students who agreed to participate in the study completed a measure of empathy for medical students, the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) (student version), at the start and end of the clerkship. Quantitative data analysis: Paired t-test and repeated measures ANOVA was used to compare the change within and between groups respectively. Qualitative data analysis: Two researchers independently chose representational narratives based on criteria adapted from art therapy. The final 20 works were agreed upon by consensus and thematically analysed using a grounded theory approach.
Results
The level of empathy declined in both groups over time, but with no statistically significant differences between groups. For JSE items relating to emotional influence on medical decision making, participants in the arts-making workshop changed more than those in the problem-solving workshop. From the qualitative data, students perceived benefits in arts-making, and gained understanding in relation to self, patients, pain and suffering, and the role of the doctor.
Conclusions
Though quantitative findings showed little difference in empathy between groups, arts-making workshop participants gained empathic understanding in four different thematic areas. This workshop also seemed to promote greater self-awareness which may help medical students recognize the potential for emotions to sway judgment. Future art workshops should focus on emotional awareness and regulation.
doi:10.1186/s12909-014-0247-4
PMCID: PMC4256925  PMID: 25431323
Medical humanities; Empathy; Art; Reflective writing; Family Medicine; Medical student
12.  Medical students’ perceptions of an emergency medicine clerkship: an analysis of self-assessment surveys 
Background
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.
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1865-1380-5-25
PMCID: PMC3419087  PMID: 22647269
13.  Effects of participation in a cross year peer tutoring programme in clinical examination skills on volunteer tutors' skills and attitudes towards teachers and teaching 
Background
Development of students' teaching skills is increasingly recognised as an important component of UK undergraduate medical curricula and, in consequence, there is renewed interest in the potential benefits of cross-year peer tutoring. Whilst several studies have described the use of cross-year peer tutoring in undergraduate medical courses, its use in the clinical setting is less well reported, particularly the effects of peer tutoring on volunteer tutors' views of teachers and teaching. This study explored the effects of participation in a cross-year peer tutoring programme in clinical examination skills ('OSCE tutor') on volunteer tutors' own skills and on their attitudes towards teachers and teaching.
Methods
Volunteer tutors were final year MBChB students who took part in the programme as part of a Student Selected Component (SSC). Tutees were year 3 MBChB students preparing for their end of year 'OSCE' examination. Pre and post participation questionnaires, including both Likert-type and open response questions, were used. Paired data was compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. All tests were two-tailed with 5% significance level.
Results
Tutors reflected their cohort in terms of gender but were drawn from among the more academically successful final year students. Most had previous teaching experience. They were influenced to participate in 'OSCE tutor' by a desire to improve their own teaching and associated generic skills and by contextual factors relating to the organisation or previous experience of the OSCE tutor programme. Issues relating to longer term career aspirations were less important. After the event, tutors felt that participation had enhanced their skills in various areas, including practical teaching skills, confidence in speaking to groups and communication skills; and that as a result of taking part, they were now more likely to undertake further teacher training and to make teaching a major part of their career. However, whilst a number of students reported that their views of teachers and teaching had changed as a result of participation, this did not translate into significant changes in responses to questions that explored their views of the roles and qualities required of a good clinical teacher.
Conclusion
Findings affirm the benefits to volunteer tutors of cross-year peer tutoring, particularly in terms of skills enhancement and reinforcement of positive attitudes towards future teaching responsibilities, and have implications for the design and organisation of such programmes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-20
PMCID: PMC1925072  PMID: 17598885
14.  Medical undergraduates’ use of behaviour change talk: the example of facilitating weight management 
Background
Obesity, an increasing problem worldwide, is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Management principally requires lifestyle (i.e. behavioural) changes. An evidence-base exists of behaviour change techniques for weight loss; however, in routine practice doctors are often unsure about effective treatments and commonly use theoretically-unfounded communication strategies (e.g. information-giving). It is not known if communication skills teaching during undergraduate training adequately prepares future doctors to engage in effective behaviour change talk with patients. The aim of the study was to examine which behaviour change techniques medical undergraduates use to facilitate lifestyle adjustments in obese patients.
Methods
Forty-eight medical trainees in their clinical years of a UK medical school conducted two simulated consultations each. Both consultations involved an obese patient scenario where weight loss was indicated. Use of simulated patients (SPs) ensured standardisation of key variables (e.g. barriers to behaviour change). Presentation of scenario order was counterbalanced. Following each consultation, students assessed the techniques they perceived themselves to have used. SPs rated the extent to which they intended to make behavioural changes and why. Anonymised transcripts of the audiotaped consultations were coded by independent assessors, blind to student and SP ratings, using a validated behaviour change taxonomy.
Results
Students reported using a wide range of evidence-based techniques. In contrast, codings of observed communication behaviours were limited. SPs behavioural intention varied and a range of helpful elements of student’s communication were revealed.
Conclusions
Current skills-based communication programmes do not adequately prepare future doctors for the growing task of facilitating weight management. Students are able to generalise some communication skills to these encounters, but are over confident and have limited ability to use evidence-based theoretically informed techniques. They recognise this as a learning need. Educators will need to tackle the challenges of integrating theoretically informed and evidence based behaviour change talk within medical training.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-7
PMCID: PMC3626629  PMID: 23347344
Behaviour change; Obesity; Undergraduate
15.  The role of critical thinking skills and learning styles of university students in their academic performance 
Introduction: The Current world needs people who have a lot of different abilities such as cognition and application of different ways of thinking, research, problem solving, critical thinking skills and creativity. In addition to critical thinking, learning styles is another key factor which has an essential role in the process of problem solving. This study aimed to determine the relationship between learning styles and critical thinking of students and their academic performance in Alborz University of Medical Science.
Methods: This cross-correlation study was performed in 2012, on 216 students of Alborz University who were selected randomly by the stratified random sampling. The data was obtained via a three-part questionnaire included demographic data, Kolb standardized questionnaire of learning style and California critical thinking standardized questionnaire. The academic performance of the students was extracted by the school records. The validity of the instruments was determined in terms of content validity, and the reliability was gained through internal consistency methods. Cronbach's alpha coefficient was found to be 0.78 for the California critical thinking questionnaire. The Chi Square test, Independent t-test, one way ANOVA and Pearson correlation test were used to determine relationship between variables. The Package SPSS14 statistical software was used to analyze data with a significant level of p<0.05.
Results: Our findings indicated the significant difference of mean score in four learning style, suggesting university students with convergent learning style have better performance than other groups. Also learning style had a relationship with age, gender, field of study, semester and job. The results about the critical thinking of the students showed that the mean of deductive reasoning and evaluation skills were higher than that of other skills and analytical skills had the lowest mean and there was a positive significant relationship between the students’ performance with inferential skill and the total score of critical thinking skills (p<0.05). Furthermore, evaluation skills and deductive reasoning had significant relationship. On the other hand, the mean total score of critical thinking had significant difference between different learning styles.
Conclusion: The results of this study showed that the learning styles, critical thinking and academic performance are significantly associated with one another. Considering the growing importance of critical thinking in enhancing the professional competence of individuals, it's recommended to use teaching methods consistent with the learning style because it would be more effective in this context.
PMCID: PMC4235550  PMID: 25512928
Learning; Performance; Student
16.  Undergraduate technical skills training guided by student tutors – Analysis of tutors' attitudes, tutees' acceptance and learning progress in an innovative teaching model 
Background
Skills labs provide a sheltered learning environment. As close supervision and individual feedback were proven to be important in ensuring effective skills training, we implemented a cross-year peer tutor system in our skills lab of internal medicine that allowed intense training sessions with small learning groups (3–4 students) taught by one student tutor.
Methods
The expectations, experiences and criticisms of peer tutors regarding the tutor system for undergraduate skills lab training were investigated in the context of a focus group. In addition, tutees' acceptance of this learning model and of their student tutors was evaluated by means of a pre/post web-based survey.
Results
14 voluntary senior students were intensely prepared by consultants for their peer tutor activity. 127 students participated in the project, 66.9% of which responded to the web-based survey (23 topics with help of 6-point Likert scale + free comments). Acceptance was very high (5.69 ± 0.07, mean ± SEM), and self-confidence ratings increased significantly after the intervention for each of the trained skills (average 1.96 ± 0.08, all p < 0.002). Tutors received high global ratings (5.50 ± 0.07) and very positive anonymous individual feedback from participants. 82% of tutees considered the peer teaching model to be sufficient, and a mere 1% expressed the wish for skills training to be provided by faculty staff only. Focus group analyses with tutors revealed 18 different topics, including profit in personal knowledge and personal satisfaction through teaching activities. The ratio of 1:4 tutor/tutees was regarded to be very beneficial for effective feedback, and the personalized online evaluation by tutees to be a strong motivator and helpful for further improvements. The tutors ascribed great importance to the continuous availability of a contact doctor in case of uncertainties.
Conclusion
This study demonstrates that peer teaching in undergraduate technical clinical skills training is feasible and widely accepted among tutees, provided that the tutors receive sufficient training and supervision.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-18
PMCID: PMC2324090  PMID: 18400106
17.  Competency-Based Reforms of the Undergraduate Biology Curriculum: Integrating the Physical and Biological Sciences 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2013;12(2):162-169.
In response to the Association of American Medical Colleges–Howard Hughes Medical Institute report Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, a collaborative effort by four institutions has produced an introductory physics for life sciences course that stresses competency building and helps students apply strategies from the physical sciences to solve authentic biological problems.
The National Experiment in Undergraduate Science Education project funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a direct response to the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians report, which urged a shift in premedical student preparation from a narrow list of specific course work to a more flexible curriculum that helps students develop broad scientific competencies. A consortium of four universities is working to create, pilot, and assess modular, competency-based curricular units that require students to use higher-order cognitive skills and reason across traditional disciplinary boundaries. Purdue University; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and the University of Miami are each developing modules and case studies that integrate the biological, chemical, physical, and mathematical sciences. The University of Maryland, College Park, is leading the effort to create an introductory physics for life sciences course that is reformed in both content and pedagogy. This course has prerequisites of biology, chemistry, and calculus, allowing students to apply strategies from the physical sciences to solving authentic biological problems. A comprehensive assessment plan is examining students’ conceptual knowledge of physics, their attitudes toward interdisciplinary approaches, and the development of specific scientific competencies. Teaching modules developed during this initial phase will be tested on multiple partner campuses in preparation for eventual broad dissemination.
doi:10.1187/cbe.12-09-0143
PMCID: PMC3671644  PMID: 23737624
18.  Wanted: role models - medical students’ perceptions of professionalism 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:115.
Background
Transformation of medical students to become medical professionals is a core competency required for physicians in the 21st century. Role modeling was traditionally the key method of transmitting this skill. Medical schools are developing medical curricula which are explicit in ensuring students develop the professional competency and understand the values and attributes of this role. The purpose of this study was to determine student perception of professionalism at the University of Ottawa and gain insights for improvement in promotion of professionalism in undergraduate medical education.
Methods
Survey on student perception of professionalism in general, the curriculum and learning environment at the University of Ottawa, and the perception of student behaviors, was developed by faculty and students and sent electronically to all University of Ottawa medical students. The survey included both quantitative items including an adapted Pritzker list and qualitative responses to eight open ended questions on professionalism at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. All analyses were performed using SAS version 9.1 (SAS Institute Inc. Cary, NC, USA). Chi-square and Fischer’s exact test (for cell count less than 5) were used to derive p-values for categorical variables by level of student learning.
Results
The response rate was 45.6% (255 of 559 students) for all four years of the curriculum. 63% of the responses were from students in years 1 and 2 (preclerkship). Students identified role modeling as the single most important aspect of professionalism. The strongest curricular recommendations included faculty-led case scenario sessions, enhancing interprofessional interactions and the creation of special awards to staff and students to “celebrate” professionalism. Current evaluation systems were considered least effective. The importance of role modeling and information on how to report lapses and breaches was highlighted in the answers to the open ended questions.
Conclusions
Students identify the need for strong positive role models in their learning environment, and for effective evaluation of the professionalism of students and teachers. Medical school leaders must facilitate development of these components within the MD education and faculty development programs as well as in clinical milieus where student learning occurs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-115
PMCID: PMC3537482  PMID: 23153359
Professionalism; Curriculum; Undergraduate medical education; Learning environment
19.  Cognitive apprenticeship in clinical practice: can it stimulate learning in the opinion of students? 
Learning in clinical practice can be characterised as situated learning because students learn by performing tasks and solving problems in an environment that reflects the multiple ways in which their knowledge will be put to use in their future professional practice. Collins et al. introduced cognitive apprenticeship as an instructional model for situated learning comprising six teaching methods to support learning: modelling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, reflection and exploration. Another factor that is looked upon as conducive to learning in clinical practice is a positive learning climate. We explored students’ experiences regarding the learning climate and whether the cognitive apprenticeship model fits students’ experiences during clinical training. In focus group interviews, three groups of 6th-year medical students (N = 21) discussed vignettes representing the six teaching methods and the learning climate to explore the perceived occurrence of the teaching methods, related problems and possibilities for improvement. The students had experienced all six teaching methods during their clerkships. Modelling, coaching, and articulation were predominant, while scaffolding, reflection, and exploration were mainly experienced during longer clerkships and with one clinical teacher. The main problem was variability in usage of the methods, which was attributed to teachers’ lack of time and formal training. The students proposed several ways to improve the application of the teaching methods. The results suggest that the cognitive apprenticeship model is a useful model for teaching strategies in undergraduate clinical training and a valuable basis for evaluation, feedback, self-assessment and faculty development of clinical teachers.
doi:10.1007/s10459-008-9136-0
PMCID: PMC2744784  PMID: 18798005
Cognitive apprenticeship; Teaching and learning in clinical practice; Focus group research
20.  Deficiency areas in decision making in undergraduate medical students 
Background
In family medicine, decisions can be difficult due to the early presentation of often poorly developed symptoms or the presentation of undifferentiated conditions that require competencies unique to family medicine, such as; primary care management, specific problem-solving skills, and a comprehensive and holistic approach to be taught to medical students.
Purpose
The aim of this study was to assess the decision-making process covering all theoretical aspects of family practice consultation and to recognize possible areas of deficiency in undergraduate medical students.
Materials and methods
This was a cross-sectional, observational study performed at the Medical School of the University of Maribor in Slovenia. The study population consisted of 159 fourth-year medical students attending a family medicine class. The main outcome measure was the scores of the students’ written reports on solving the virtual clinical case. An assessment tool consisted of ten items that could be graded on a 5-point Likert scale.
Results
The final sample consisted of 147 (92.5%) student reports. There were 95 (64.6%) female students in the sample. The mean total score on the assessment scale was 35.1±7.0 points of a maximum 50 points. Students scored higher in the initial assessment items and lower in the patient education/involvement items. Female students scored significantly higher in terms of total assessment score and in terms of initial assessment and patient education/involvement.
Conclusion
Undergraduate medical education should devote more time to teaching a comprehensive approach to consultation, especially modification of the health behavior of patients and opportunistic health promotion to patients. Possible sex differences in students’ performance should be further evaluated.
doi:10.2147/AMEP.S64920
PMCID: PMC4105214  PMID: 25053897
assessment; family medicine; undergraduate medical education; decision making
21.  Interactive seminars or small group tutorials in preclinical medical education: results of a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:79.
Background
Learning in small group tutorials is appreciated by students and effective in the acquisition of clinical problem-solving skills but poses financial and resource challenges. Interactive seminars, which accommodate large groups, might be an alternative. This study examines the educational effectiveness of small group tutorials and interactive seminars and students' preferences for and satisfaction with these formats.
Methods
Students in year three of the Leiden undergraduate medical curriculum, who agreed to participate in a randomized controlled trial (RCT, n = 107), were randomly allocated to small group tutorials (n = 53) or interactive seminars (n = 54). Students who did not agree were free to choose either format (n = 105). Educational effectiveness was measured by comparing the participants' results on the end-of-block test. Data on students' reasons and satisfaction were collected by means of questionnaires. Data was analyzed using student unpaired t test or chi-square test where appropriate.
Results
There were no significant differences between the two educational formats in students' test grades. Retention of knowledge through active participation was the most frequently cited reason for preferring small group tutorials, while a dislike of compulsory course components was mentioned more frequently by students preferring interactive seminars. Small group tutorials led to greater satisfaction.
Conclusions
We found that small group tutorials leads to greater satisfaction but not to better learning results. Interactive learning in large groups might be might be an effective alternative to small group tutorials in some cases and be offered as an option.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-79
PMCID: PMC3000405  PMID: 21073744
22.  Using video-cases to assess student reflection: Development and validation of an instrument 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:22.
Background
Reflection is a meta-cognitive process, characterized by: 1. Awareness of self and the situation; 2. Critical analysis and understanding of both self and the situation; 3. Development of new perspectives to inform future actions. Assessors can only access reflections indirectly through learners’ verbal and/or written expressions. Being privy to the situation that triggered reflection could place reflective materials into context. Video-cases make that possible and, coupled with a scoring rubric, offer a reliable way of assessing reflection.
Methods
Fourth and fifth year undergraduate medical students were shown two interactive video-cases and asked to reflect on this experience, guided by six standard questions. The quality of students’ reflections were scored using a specially developed Student Assessment of Reflection Scoring rubric (StARS®). Reflection scores were analyzed concerning interrater reliability and ability to discriminate between students. Further, the intra-rater reliability and case specificity were estimated by means of a generalizability study with rating and case scenario as facets.
Results
Reflection scores of 270 students ranged widely and interrater reliability was acceptable (Krippendorff’s alpha = 0.88). The generalizability study suggested 3 or 4 cases were needed to obtain reliable ratings from 4th year students and ≥ 6 cases from 5th year students.
Conclusion
Use of StARS® to assess student reflections triggered by standardized video-cases had acceptable discriminative ability and reliability. We offer this practical method for assessing reflection summatively, and providing formative feedback in training situations.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-22
PMCID: PMC3426495  PMID: 22520632
23.  Acting on Reflection: the Effect of Reflection on Students’ Clinical Performance on a Standardized Patient Examination 
Background
Little evidence exists to support the value of reflection in the clinical setting.
Objective
To determine whether reflecting and revisiting the “patient” during a standardized patient (SP) examination improves junior medical students’ performance and to analyze students’ perceptions of its value.
Design
Students completed a six-encounter clinical skills examination, writing a guided assessment after each encounter to trigger reflection. SPs evaluated the students with Medical Skills and Patient Satisfaction checklists. During the last three encounters, students could opt to revisit the SP and be reevaluated with identical checklists.
Participants
One hundred and forty-nine third year medical students.
Measurements
Changes in scores in the Medical Skills and Patient Satisfaction checklists between first visit and revisit were tested separately per case as well as across cases.
Results
On the medical skills and patient satisfaction checklists, mean revisit scores across cases were significantly higher than mean first visit scores [12.6 vs 12.2 (pooled SD = 2.4), P = .0001; 31.2 vs 31.0 (pooled SD = 3.5), P = .0001)]. Sixty-five percent of the time, students rated “reflect–revisit” positively, 34% neutrally, and 0.4% negatively. Five themes were identified in the positive comments: enhancement of (1) medical decision making, (2) patient education/counseling, (3) student satisfaction/confidence, (4) patient satisfaction/confidence, and (5) clinical realism.
Conclusions
Offering third year medical students the option to reflect and revisit an SP during a clinical skills examination produced a small but nontrivial increase in clinical performance. Students perceived the reflect–revisit experience as enhancing patient-centered practices (counseling, education) as well as their own medical decision making and clinical confidence.
doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0110-y
PMCID: PMC1824774  PMID: 17351839
reflection; standardized patients; medical student
24.  Acting on Reflection: the Effect of Reflection on Students’ Clinical Performance on a Standardized Patient Examination 
Background
Little evidence exists to support the value of reflection in the clinical setting.
Objective
To determine whether reflecting and revisiting the “patient” during a standardized patient (SP) examination improves junior medical students’ performance and to analyze students’ perceptions of its value.
Design
Students completed a six-encounter clinical skills examination, writing a guided assessment after each encounter to trigger reflection. SPs evaluated the students with Medical Skills and Patient Satisfaction checklists. During the last three encounters, students could opt to revisit the SP and be reevaluated with identical checklists.
Participants
One hundred and forty-nine third year medical students.
Measurements
Changes in scores in the Medical Skills and Patient Satisfaction checklists between first visit and revisit were tested separately per case as well as across cases.
Results
On the medical skills and patient satisfaction checklists, mean revisit scores across cases were significantly higher than mean first visit scores [12.6 vs 12.2 (pooled SD = 2.4), P = .0001; 31.2 vs 31.0 (pooled SD = 3.5), P = .0001)]. Sixty-five percent of the time, students rated “reflect–revisit” positively, 34% neutrally, and 0.4% negatively. Five themes were identified in the positive comments: enhancement of (1) medical decision making, (2) patient education/counseling, (3) student satisfaction/confidence, (4) patient satisfaction/confidence, and (5) clinical realism.
Conclusions
Offering third year medical students the option to reflect and revisit an SP during a clinical skills examination produced a small but nontrivial increase in clinical performance. Students perceived the reflect–revisit experience as enhancing patient-centered practices (counseling, education) as well as their own medical decision making and clinical confidence.
doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0110-y
PMCID: PMC1824774  PMID: 17351839
reflection; standardized patients; medical student
25.  Revolutionizing Volunteer Interpreter Services: An Evaluation of an Innovative Medical Interpreter Education Program 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2013;28(12):1589-1595.
ABSTRACT
BACKGROUND
In our ever-increasingly multicultural, multilingual society, medical interpreters serve an important role in the provision of care. Though it is known that using untrained interpreters leads to decreased quality of care for limited English proficiency patients, because of a short supply of professionals and a lack of formalized, feasible education programs for volunteers, community health centers and internal medicine practices continue to rely on untrained interpreters.
OBJECTIVE
To develop and formally evaluate a novel medical interpreter education program that encompasses major tenets of interpretation, tailored to the needs of volunteer medical interpreters.
DESIGN
One-armed, quasi-experimental retro-pre–post study using survey ratings and feedback correlated by assessment scores to determine educational intervention effects.
PARTICIPANTS
Thirty-eight students; 24 Spanish, nine Mandarin, and five Vietnamese. The majority had prior interpreting experience but no formal medical interpreter training.
OUTCOME MEASURES
Students completed retrospective pre-test and post-test surveys measuring confidence in and perceived knowledge of key skills of interpretation. Primary outcome measures were a 10-point Likert scale for survey questions of knowledge, skills, and confidence, written and oral assessments of interpreter skills, and qualitative evidence of newfound knowledge in written reflections.
RESULTS
Analyses showed a statistically significant (P <0.001) change of about two points in mean self-ratings on knowledge, skills, and confidence, with large effect sizes (d > 0.8). The second half of the program was also quantitatively and qualitatively shown to be a vital learning experience, resulting in 18 % more students passing the oral assessments; a 19 % increase in mean scores for written assessments; and a newfound understanding of interpreter roles and ways to navigate them.
CONCLUSIONS
This innovative program was successful in increasing volunteer interpreters’ skills and knowledge of interpretation, as well as confidence in own abilities. Additionally, the program effectively taught how to navigate the roles of the interpreter to maintain clear communication.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2502-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2502-5
PMCID: PMC3832724  PMID: 23739810
interpreter; community health; minority health; quality improvement; underserved populations

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