Laboratory medicine is an integral component of patient care. Approximately 60% to 70% of medical decisions are based on laboratory results. Physicians in specialties that order the tests are teaching medical students laboratory medicine and test use with minimal input from laboratory scientists who implement and maintain the quality control for those tests.
To develop, implement, and evaluate a 1.5-day medical student clinical laboratory experience for fourth-year medical students in their last month of training.
The experience was devised and directed by laboratory scientists and included a panel discussion, laboratory tours, case studies that focused on the goals and objectives recently published by the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists, and medical-student presentations highlighting salient points of the experience. The same knowledge quiz was administered at the beginning and end of the experience and 84 students took both quizzes.
A score of 7 or more was obtained by 16 students (19%) on the initial quiz, whereas 34 (40%) obtained the same score on the final quiz; the improvement was found to be statistically significant (P = .002; t = 3.215), particularly in 3 out of the 10 questions administered.
Although the assessment can only measure a small amount of knowledge recently acquired, the improvement observed by fourth-year medical students devoting a short period to learning laboratory medicine principles was encouraging. This medical student clinical laboratory experience format allowed teaching of a select group of laboratory medicine principles in 1.5 days to an entire medical school class.