Physical clinical examination is a core clinical competence of medical doctors. In this regard, digital rectal examination (DRE) plays a central role in the detection of abnormalities of the anus and rectum. However, studies in undergraduate medical students as well as newly graduated doctors show that they are insufficiently prepared for performing DRE. Training units with Standardized Patients (SP) represent one method to deliver DRE skills. As yet, however, it is little known about SPs’ attitudes.
This is a qualitative study using a grounded theory approach. Interviews were conducted with 4 standardized patients about their experiences before, during and after structured SP training to deliver DRE competencies to medical students. The resulting data were subjected to thematic content analysis.
Results show that SPs do not have any predominant motives for DRE program participation. They participate in the SP training sessions with relatively little prejudice and do not anticipate feeling highly vulnerable within teaching sessions with undergraduate medical students.
The current study examined SPs’ motives, views, expectations and experiences regarding a DRE program during their first SP training experiences. The results enabled us to derive distinct action guidelines for the recruitment, informing and briefing of SPs who are willing to participate in a DRE program.
Intimate physical examinations; Digital rectal examination; Standardized patients; Qualitative research
Background: Learning on the ward as a practice-oriented preparation for the future workplace plays a crucial role in the medical education of future physicians. However, students’ ward internship is partially problematic due to condensed workflows on the ward and the high workload of supervising physicians. For the first time in a German-speaking setting, students’ expectations and concerns about their internship on the ward are examined in a qualitative analysis regarding their internal medicine rotation within clinical medical education.
Methods: Of a total of 168 medical students in their 6th semester at the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg, 28 students (m=8, f=20, Ø 23.6 years) took part in focus group interviews 3 to 5 days prior to their internship on the internal medicine ward within their clinical internal medicine rotation. Students were divided into four different focus groups. The protocols were transcribed and a content analysis was conducted based on grounded theory.
Results: We gathered a total of 489 relevant individual statements. The students hope for a successful integration within the ward team, reliable and supportive supervisors and supervision in small groups. They expect to face the most common diseases, to train the most important medical skills, to assume full responsibility for their own patients and to acquire their own medical identity. The students fear an insufficient time frame to achieve their aims. They are also concerned they will have too little contact with patients and inadequate supervision.
Conclusion: For the development and standardization of effective student internships, the greatest relevance should be attributed to guidance and supervision by professionally trained and well-prepared medical teachers, entailing a significant increase in staff and costs. A structural framework is required in order to transfer the responsibility for the treatment of patients to the students at an early stage in medical education and in a longitudinal manner. The data suggest that the development and establishment of guidelines for medical teachers associated with clearly defined learning objectives for the students’ internships are urgently needed. Based on our findings, we provide first recommendations and suggest possible solutions.
Workplace learning; undergraduate medical education; clinical training; focus groups; grounded theory
The practice of assessing student performance in human, dental and veterinary medicine at universities in German-speaking countries has undergone significant changes in the past decade. Turning the focus to practical requirements regarding medical practice during undergraduate study away from an often theory-dominated curriculum, the academic scrutiny of the basics of teaching medical knowledge and skills, and amendments to legislation, all require ongoing adjustments to curricula and the ways in which assessments are done during undergraduate medical education. To establish quality standards, the Gesellschaft für medizinische Ausbildung (GMA German Society for Medical Education) reached a consensus in 2008 on recommendations for administering medical school-specific exams which have now been updated and approved by the GMA assessments committee, together with the Medizinischer Fakultätentag (MFT German Association of Medical Faculties), as recommendations for the administration of high-quality assessments.
Aim: Student tutorials are now firmly anchored in medical education. However, to date there have only been isolated efforts to establish structured teacher training for peer tutors in medicine. To close this gap, a centralized tutor training program for students, culminating in an academic certificate, was implemented at Heidelberg University Medical School. The program also counts within the scope of the post-graduate Baden-Württemberg Certificate in Academic Teaching (Baden-Württemberg Zertifikat für Hochschuldidaktik).
Method: Based on a needs assessment, a modular program comprised of four modules and a total of 200 curricular units was developed in cooperation with the Department for Key Competencies and Higher Education at Heidelberg University and implemented during the 2010 summer semester. This program covers not only topic-specific training sessions, but also independent teaching and an integrated evaluation of the learning process that is communicated to the graduates in the form of structured feedback. In addition, to evaluate the overall concept, semi-structured interviews (N=18) were conducted with the program graduates.
Results: To date, 495 tutors have been trained in the basic module on teaching medicine, which is rated with a mean overall grade of 1.7 (SW: 0.6) and has served as Module I of the program since 2010. A total of 17% (N=83) of these tutors have gone on to enroll in the subsequent training modules of the program; 27 of them (m=12, f=15) have already successfully completed them. Based on qualitative analyses, it is evident that the training program certificate and its applicability toward the advanced teacher training for university instructors pose a major incentive for the graduates. For successful program realization, central coordination, extensive coordination within the medical school, and the evaluation of the attained skills have proven to be of particular importance.
Conclusion: The training program contributes sustainably to both quality assurance and professionalism, as well as to solving the issue of resources in medical education. The introduction and continued development of similar programs is desirable.
Medical education; peer teaching; tutor training; curriculum; graduation certificate
Background: The rapid progress of psychosomatic research in cardiology and also the increasing impact of psychosocial issues in the clinical daily routine have prompted the Clinical Commission of the German Heart Society (DGK) to agree to an update of the first state of the art paper on this issue which was originally released in 2008.
Methods: The circle of experts was increased, general aspects were implemented and the state of the art was updated. Particular emphasis was dedicated to coronary heart diseases (CHD), heart rhythm diseases and heart failure because to date the evidence-based clinical knowledge is most advanced in these particular areas. Differences between men and women and over the life span were considered in the recommendations as were influences of cognitive capability and the interactive and synergistic impact of classical somatic risk factors on the affective comorbidity in heart disease patients.
Results: A IA recommendation (recommendation grade I and evidence grade A) was given for the need to consider psychosocial risk factors in the estimation of coronary risks as etiological and prognostic risk factors. Furthermore, for the recommendation to routinely integrate psychosocial patient management into the care of heart surgery patients because in these patients, comorbid affective disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder) are highly prevalent and often have a malignant prognosis. A IB recommendation was given for the treatment of psychosocial risk factors aiming to prevent the onset of CHD, particularly if the psychosocial risk factor is harmful in itself (e.g. depression) or constrains the treatment of the somatic risk factors. Patients with acute and chronic CHD should be offered anti-depressive medication if these patients suffer from medium to severe states of depression and in this case medication with selective reuptake inhibitors should be given. In the long-term course of treatment with implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) a subjective health technology assessment is warranted. In particular, the likelihood of affective comorbidities and the onset of psychological crises should be carefully considered.
Conclusions: The present state of the art paper presents an update of current empirical evidence in psychocardiology. The paper provides evidence-based recommendations for the integration of psychosocial factors into cardiological practice and highlights areas of high priority. The evidence for estimating the efficiency for psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological interventions has increased substantially since the first release of the policy document but is, however, still weak. There remains an urgent need to establish curricula for physician competence in psychodiagnosis, communication and referral to ensure that current psychocardiac knowledge is translated into the daily routine.
depression; anxiety; post-traumatic stress disorder; psychotherapy; psychopharmacology
Skills lab training has become a widespread tool in medical education, and nowadays, skills labs are ubiquitous among medical faculties across the world. An increasingly prevalent didactic approach in skills lab teaching is peer-assisted learning (PAL), which has been shown to be not only effective, but can be considered to be on a par with faculty staff-led training. The aim of the study is to determine whether voluntary preclinical skills teaching by peer tutors is a feasible method for preparing medical students for effective workplace learning in clerkships and to investigate both tutees’ and tutors’ attitudes towards such an intervention.
A voluntary clerkship preparation skills course was designed and delivered. N = 135 pre-clinical medical students visited the training sessions. N = 10 tutors were trained as skills-lab peer tutors. Voluntary clerkship preparation skills courses as well as tutor training were evaluated by acceptance ratings and pre-post self-assessment ratings. Furthermore, qualitative analyses of skills lab tutors’ attitudes towards the course were conducted following principles of grounded theory.
Results show that a voluntary clerkship preparation skills course is in high demand, is highly accepted and leads to significant changes in self-assessment ratings. Regarding qualitative analysis of tutor statements, clerkship preparation skills courses were considered to be a helpful and necessary asset to preclinical medical education, which benefits from the tutors’ own clerkship experiences and a high standardization of training. Tutor training is also highly accepted and regarded as an indispensable tool for peer tutors.
Our study shows that the demand for voluntary competence-oriented clerkship preparation is high, and a peer tutor-led skills course as well as tutor training is well accepted. The focused didactic approach for tutor training is perceived to be effective in preparing tutors for their teaching activity in this context. A prospective study design would be needed to substantiate the results objectively and confirm the effectiveness.
Medical education; Peer assisted learning; Clerkship preparation; Tutor training; Clinical skills
Skills-lab training as a methodological teaching approach is nowadays part of the training programs of almost all medical faculties. Specific ingredients have been shown to contribute to a successful learning experience in skills-labs. Although it is undoubted that the instructional approach used to introduce novel clinical technical skills to learners has a decisive impact on subsequent skills performance, as yet, little is known about differential effects of varying instructional methods. An instructional approach that is becoming increasingly prevalent in medical education is “Peyton’s Four-Step Approach”. As Peyton’s Four Step Approach was designed for a 1:1 teacher : student ratio, the aim of the present study was to develop and evaluate a modified Peyton’s Approach for small group teaching.
The modified Peyton’s Approach was applied in three skills-lab training sessions on IV catheter insertion, each with three first- or second year medical students (n = 9), delivered by three different skills-lab teachers. The presented descriptive study investigated the practicability and subjective impressions of skills-lab trainees and tutors. Skills-lab sessions were evaluated by trainees’ self-assessment, expert ratings, and qualitative analysis of semi-standardized interviews conducted with trainees and tutors.
The model was well accepted by trainees, and was rated as easy to realize, resulting in a good flow of teaching and success in attracting trainee’s attention when observed by expert raters. Qualitative semi-standardized interviews performed with all of the trainees and tutors revealed that trainees valued repeated observation, instruction of trainees and the opportunity for independent performance, while tutors stressed that trainees were highly concentrated throughout the training and that they perceived repeated observation to be a valuable preparation for their own performance.
The modified Peyton’s Approach to instruct small groups of students in skills-lab training sessions has revealed to be practicable, well accepted by trainees, and easy for tutors to realize. Further research should address the realization of the model in larger skills-lab training groups.
Undergraduate medical education; Clinical skills; Catheter insertion; Simulation; Instructional approach; Peyton; Small group teaching
It is well accepted that medical faculty teaching staff require an understanding of educational theory and pedagogical methods for effective medical teaching. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a 5-day teaching education program.
An open prospective interventional study using quantitative and qualitative instruments was performed, covering all four levels of the Kirkpatrick model: Evaluation of 1) ‘Reaction’ on a professional and emotional level using standardized questionnaires; 2) ‘Learning’ applying a multiple choice test; 3) ‘Behavior’ by self-, peer-, and expert assessment of teaching sessions with semistructured interviews; and 4) ‘Results’ from student evaluations.
Our data indicate the success of the educational intervention at all observed levels. 1) Reaction: The participants showed a high acceptance of the instructional content. 2) Learning: There was a significant increase in knowledge (P<0.001) as deduced from a pre-post multiple-choice questionnaire, which was retained at 6 months (P<0.001). 3) Behavior: Peer-, self-, and expert-assessment indicated a transfer of learning into teaching performance. Semistructured interviews reflected a higher level of professionalism in medical teaching by the participants. 4) Results: Teaching performance ratings improved in students’ evaluations.
Our results demonstrate the success of a 5-day education program in embedding knowledge and skills to improve performance of medical educators. This multimethodological approach, using both qualitative and quantitative measures, may serve as a model to evaluate effectiveness of comparable interventions in other settings.
faculty development; medical education; medical teacher; educational theory; collaborative feedback
Purpose: The acquisition of clinical-technical skills is of particular importance for the doctors of tomorrow. Procedural skills are often trained for the first time in skills laboratories, which provide a sheltered learning environment. However, costs to implement and maintain skills laboratories are considerably high. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate students’ patterns of attendance of voluntary skills-lab training sessions and thereby answer the following question: Is it possible to measure an effect of the theoretical construct related to motivational psychology described in the literature – ‘Assessment drives learning’ – reflected in patterns of attendance at voluntary skills-lab training sessions? By answering this question, design recommendations for curriculum planning and resource management should be derived.
Method: A retrospective, descriptive analysis of student skills-lab attendance related to voluntary basic and voluntary advanced skills-lab sessions was conducted. The attendance patterns of a total of 340 third-year medical students in different successive year groups from the Medical Faculty at the University of Heidelberg were assessed.
Results: Students showed a preference for voluntary basic skills-lab training sessions, which were relevant to clinical skills assessment, especially at the beginning and at the end of the term. Voluntary advanced skills-lab training sessions without reference to clinical skills assessment were used especially at the beginning of the term, but declined towards the end of term.
Conclusion: The results show a clear influence of assessments on students’ attendance at skills-lab training sessions. First recommendations for curriculum design and resource management will be described. Nevertheless, further prospective research studies will be necessary to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the motivational factors impacting students’ utilisation of voluntary skills-lab training in order to reach a sufficient concordance between students’ requirements and faculty offers, as well as resource management.
OSCE; skills-lab; assessment-driven learning; curriculum development; resource management
Aims: In most German medical faculties, credits in general practice can be earned via exams using multiple-choice questions (MCQ). Measures such as peer-reviews may help assure the quality of these exams. In order to use time and personnel intensive peer reviews effectively and efficiently, the procedures used are key. Therefore, we wanted to find out whether there are differences between group and individual reviews regarding defined parameters.
Methods: We conducted a controlled cross-over study with three GP reviewers from four different German universities. Each reviewed 80 MCQs, 40 individually and 40 within a group, including external assessments by a panel of experts. Furthermore all reviewers were asked to evaluate the review process and the time spent carrying out these reviews.
Outcomes: We found no significant differences between the reliability and the validity of individual reviews versus group reviews. On average slightly more time was spent on group reviews compared with the individual reviews. The subjective assessments of the study participants regarding their satisfaction with the process and the efficiency and effectiveness of the reviews suggest a preference for group reviews.
Conclusions: Based on this study, there are no definite recommendations for or against either approach. When choosing between the two, the specific work structures and organisation at the local faculty should be taken into account.
Medical Educatio; assessment; Multiple-Choice-Questions; Review
The development, implementation and evaluation of assessments require considerable resources and often cannot be carried out by a single faculty/institution. Therefore some medical faculties have founded cooperation projects which mainly focus on the exchange of multiple choice questions (MCQs).
Since these cooperation projects do not entirely support all relevant processes in terms of preparation, implementation and evaluation of assessment, in 2006 the Medical Assessment Alliance (MAA) was founded for mutual support. In addition to MCQs the MAA started to develop innovative assessment formats and facilitate content through a coordinated exchange of experiences. To support cooperation within this network, the web-based Item Management System (IMS) was developed which supports all processes of the assessment workflow as an all-in-one working platform.
At present, the Alliance has 28 partner faculties in Europe. More than 2.800 users in 750 working groups are collaborating. Currently 90.000 questions have been stored in the IMS. Since 2007, nearly 4.600 examinations have been successfully conducted.
This article describes in detail the unique features of the IMS and contrasts it with the item management systems of other associations.
Assessment alliance; Quality control
Objectives: A clinical practice guideline (CPG) contains specifically developed recommendations that can serve physicians as a decision aid in evidence-based practice. The implementation of heart failure (HF) CPGs represents a challenge in general practice. As part of the development of a tailored curriculum, aim of this study was to identify barriers of guideline adherence and needs for medical education (CME) in HF care.
Methods: We conducted a modified focus group with elements of a workshop of three hours duration. Thirteen GPs collected and discussed together and parallel in smaller groups barriers of guideline implementation. Afterwards they performed a needs assessment for a tailored CME curriculum for chronic HF. The content of the discussions was analysed qualitatively according to Mayring and categorised thematically.
Results: Barriers of guideline adherence were found in the following areas: doctor: procedural knowledge (knowledge gaps), communicative and organisational skills (e.g. time management) and attitude (dissatisfaction with time-money-relation). Patients: individual case-related problems (multimorbidity, psychiatric comorbidity, expectations and beliefs). Doctor and patient: Adherence and barriers of communication. Main measures for improvement of care concerned the areas of the identified barriers of guideline adherence with the focus on application-oriented training of the abovementioned procedural knowledge and skills, but also the supply of tools (like patient information leaflets) and patient education.
Conclusion: For a CME-curriculum for HF tailored to the needs of GPs, a comprehensive educational approach seems necessary. It should be broad-based and include elements of knowledge and skills to be addressed and trained case-related. Additional elements should include support in the implementation of organisational processes in the practice and patient education.
heart failure; family practice; clinical practice guidelines; qualitative research; continuing medical education
The effectiveness of skills laboratory training is widely recognized. Yet, the transfer of procedural skills acquired in skills laboratories into clinical practice has rarely been investigated. We conducted a prospective, randomised, double-blind, controlled trial to evaluate, if students having trained intravenous (IV) cannulation in a skills laboratory are rated as more professional regarding technical and communication skills compared to students who underwent bedside teaching when assessed objectively by independent video assessors and subjectively by patients.
Methodology and Principal Findings
84 volunteer first-year medical students were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Three drop-outs occurred. The intervention group (IG; n = 41) trained IV cannulation in a skills laboratory receiving instruction after Peyton's ‘Four-Step Approach’. The control group (CG; n = 40) received a bedside teaching session with volunteer students acting as patients. Afterwards, performance of IV cannulation of both groups in a clinical setting with students acting as patients was video-recorded. Two independent, blinded video assessors scored students' performance using binary checklists (BC) and the Integrated Procedural Protocol Instrument (IPPI). Patients assessed students' performance with the Communication Assessment Tool (CAT) and a modified IPPI. IG required significantly shorter time needed for the performance on a patient (IG: 595.4 SD(188.1)s; CG: 692.7 SD(247.8)s; 95%CI 23.5 s to 45.1 s; p = 0.049) and completed significantly more single steps of the procedure correctly (IG: 64% SD(14) for BC items; CG: 53% SD(18); 95%CI 10.25% to 11.75%; p = 0.004). IG also scored significantly better on IPPI ratings (median: IG: 3.1; CG: 3.6; p = 0.015;). Rated by patients, students' performance and patient-physician communication did not significantly differ between groups.
Transfer of IV cannulation-related skills acquired in a skills laboratory is superior to bedside teaching when rated by independent video raters by means of IPPI and BC. It enables students to perform IV cannulation more professionally on volunteer students acting as patients.
The management of patients with heart failure (HF) needs to account for changeable and complex individual clinical characteristics. The use of renin angiotensin system inhibitors (RAAS-I) to target doses is recommended by guidelines. But physicians seemingly do not sufficiently follow this recommendation, while little is known about the physician and patient predictors of adherence.
To examine the coherence of primary care (PC) physicians' knowledge and self-perceived competencies regarding RAAS-I with their respective prescribing behavior being related to patient-associated barriers. Cross-sectional follow-up study after a randomized medical educational intervention trial with a seven month observation period. PC physicians (n = 37) and patients with systolic HF (n = 168) from practices in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Measurements were knowledge (blueprint-based multiple choice test), self-perceived competencies (questionnaire on global confidence in the therapy and on frequency of use of RAAS-I), and patient variables (age, gender, NYHA functional status, blood pressure, potassium level, renal function). Prescribing was collected from the trials' documentation. The target variable consisted of ≥50% of recommended RAAS-I dosage being investigated by two-level logistic regression models.
Patients (69% male, mean age 68.8 years) showed symptomatic and objectified left ventricular (NYHA II vs. III/IV: 51% vs. 49% and mean LVEF 33.3%) and renal (GFR<50%: 22%) impairment. Mean percentage of RAAS-I target dose was 47%, 59% of patients receiving ≥50%. Determinants of improved prescribing of RAAS-I were patient age (OR 0.95, CI 0.92–0.99, p = 0.01), physician's global self-confidence at follow-up (OR 1.09, CI 1.02–1.05, p = 0.01) and NYHA class (II vs. III/IV) (OR 0.63, CI 0.38–1.05, p = 0.08).
A change in physician's confidence as a predictor of RAAS-I dose increase is a new finding that might reflect an intervention effect of improved physicians' intention and that might foster novel strategies to improve safe evidence-based prescribing. These should include targeting knowledge, attitudes and skills.
To assess the student perspective on acceptability, realism, and perceived effect of communication training with peer role play (RP) and standardised patients (SP).
69 prefinal year students from a large German medical faculty were randomly assigned to one of two groups receiving communication training with RP (N = 34) or SP (N = 35) in the course of their paediatric rotation. In both groups, training addressed major medical and communication problems encountered in the exploration and counselling of parents of sick children. Acceptability and realism of the training as well as perceived effects and applicability for future parent-physician encounters were assessed using six-point Likert scales.
Both forms of training were highly accepted (RP 5.32 ± .41, SP 5.51 ± .44, n.s.; 6 = very good, 1 = very poor) and perceived to be highly realistic (RP 5.60 ± .38, SP 5.53 ± .36, n.s.; 6 = highly realistic, 1 = unrealistic). Regarding perceived effects, participation was seen to be significantly more worthwhile in the SP group (RP 5.17 ± .37, SP 5.50 ± .43; p < .003; 6 = totally agree, 1 = don't agree at all). Both training methods were perceived as useful for training communication skills (RP 5.01 ± .68, SP 5.34 ± .47; 6 = totally agree; 1 = don't agree at all) and were considered to be moderately applicable for future parent-physician encounters (RP 4.29 ± 1.08, SP 5.00 ± .89; 6 = well prepared, 1 = unprepared), with usefulness and applicability both being rated higher in the SP group (p < .032 and p < .009).
RP and SP represent comparably valuable tools for the training of specific communication skills from the student perspective. Both provide highly realistic training scenarios and warrant inclusion in medical curricula. Given the expense of SP, deciding which method to employ should be carefully weighed up. From the perspective of the students in our study, SP were seen as a more useful and more applicable tool than RP. We discuss the potential of RP to foster a greater empathic appreciation of the patient perspective.
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.
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.
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.
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.