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1.  Communicating genetic information: a difficult challenge for future pediatricians 
Background
The role of the pediatrician as genetic counselor is ideal because pediatricians have medical knowledge and experience with genetic disorders (e.g. Down syndrome). Moreover, pediatricians can provide comprehensive care in a medical home to patients with genetic disorders. However, changes in the curriculum of the pediatric resident are necessary to address the future challenges of effectively communicating genetic information to patients. The objective of this study was to explore these challenges and make recommendations for training to adequately prepare pediatricians for their future role as genetic counselors.
Methods
Three reviewers independently searched PubMed, OVID, and Medline databases to identify articles describing the challenges of communicating genetic information to patients, published from 1960 to December 2005. After the publications were identified and reviewed, four major areas of interest were identified in order to categorize the findings.
Results
Twenty-five publications were identified during the literature search. From the review, the following categories were selected to organize the findings: (1) Inherent difficulties of communicating and comprehending genetic information; (2) Comprehension of genetic information by pediatricians; (3) Genetics training in residency programs; and (4) The effect of genetic information on the future role of pediatricians and potential legal implications.
Conclusion
Pediatricians and residents lack essential knowledge of genetics and communication skills for effective counseling of patients. The review indicated that successful communication of genetic information involves a number of important skills and considerations. It is likely that these skills and considerations are universally required for the communication of most complex specialized medical information. In the past, communication skills have not been considered a priority. Today, these skills have become a demanding professional and even legal obligation. However, the challenges involved in communicating complex medical information cannot be successfully addressed with universal, one-size-fits-all recommendations. Residency training programs require changes to adequately prepare future pediatricians for the growing challenge of communicating genetic information. Four important skills should be considered in the training of residents to improve the communication of complex information to patients. These skills are (1) discriminating, (2) understanding, (3) simplifying, and (4) explaining information.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-17
PMCID: PMC1914058  PMID: 17577408
2.  The Spiral Curriculum: implications for online learning 
Background
There is an apparent disjuncture between the requirements of the medical spiral curriculum and the practice of replacing previous online material in undergraduate courses. This paper investigates the extent to which students revisit previous online material for the purposes of building the educational spiral, and the implications for the implementation of a Faculty's Learning Management System implementation.
Methods
At the University of Cape Town, medical students' last date of access to 16 previous online courses was determined. Students completed a survey to determine their reasons for revisiting this material and the perceived benefits of this availability.
Results
70% of the students revisited their previous online courses. The major reasons were to review lecture presentations, lectures notes, and quizzes. The perceived benefits were for understanding new material, preparation for assessments, and convenience.
Although student comments were not always in line with the concept of the spiral curriculum, most referred to processes of building on previous work, and some mentioned the spiral curriculum specifically.
Conclusion
This study suggests that the practice of replacing previous online courses may hinder rather than support student learning. Although students visit previous material for ranges of reasons, a large number are aware of the spiral curriculum, and use the online environment to build upon previous material. Any practice, which entails replacing material and redesigning curricula content may be detrimental to the students' future learning needs, and such activities may need revision.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-52
PMCID: PMC2234404  PMID: 18154654
3.  Medical theses as part of the scientific training in basic medical and dental education: experiences from Finland 
Background
Teaching the principles of scientific research in a comprehensive way is important at medical and dental schools. In many countries medical and dental training is not complete until the candidate has presented a diploma thesis. The objective of this study was to evaluate the nature, quality, publication pattern and visibility of Finnish medical diploma theses.
Methods
A total of 256 diploma theses presented at the University of Oulu from 2001 to 2003 were analysed. Using a standardised questionnaire, we extracted several characteristics from each thesis. We used the name of the student to assess whether the thesis resulted in a scientific publication indexed in medical article databases. The number of citations received by each published thesis was also recorded.
Results
A high proportion of the theses (69.5%) were essentially statistical in character, often combined with an extensive literature review or the development of a laboratory method. Most of them were supervised by clinical departments (55.9%). Only 61 theses (23.8%) had been published in indexed scientific journals. Theses in the fields of biomedicine and diagnostics were published in more widely cited journals. The median number of citations received per year was 2.7 and the range from 0 to 14.7.
Conclusion
The theses were seldom written according to the principles of scientific communication and the proportion of actually published was small. The visibility of these theses and their dissemination to the scientific community should be improved.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-51
PMCID: PMC2235851  PMID: 18053247
4.  'It gives you an understanding you can't get from any book.' The relationship between medical students' and doctors' personal illness experiences and their performance: a qualitative and quantitative study 
Background
Anecdotes abound about doctors' personal illness experiences and the effect they have on their empathy and care of patients. We formally investigated the relationship between doctors' and medical students' personal illness experiences, their examination results, preparedness for clinical practice, learning and professional attitudes and behaviour towards patients.
Methods
Newly-qualified UK doctors in 2005 (n = 2062/4784), and two cohorts of students at one London medical school (n = 640/749) participated in the quantitative arm of the study. 37 Consultants, 1 Specialist Registrar, 2 Clinical Skills Tutors and 25 newly-qualified doctors participated in the qualitative arm. Newly-qualified doctors and medical students reported their personal illness experiences in a questionnaire. Doctors' experiences were correlated with self-reported preparedness for their new clinical jobs. Students' experiences were correlated with their examination results, and self-reported anxiety and depression. Interviews with clinical teachers, newly-qualified doctors and senior doctors qualitatively investigated how personal illness experiences affect learning, professional attitudes, and behaviour.
Results
85.5% of newly-qualified doctors and 54.4% of medical students reported personal illness experiences. Newly-qualified doctors who had been ill felt less prepared for starting work (p < 0.001), but those who had only experienced illness in a relative or friend felt more prepared (p = 0.02). Clinical medical students who had been ill were more anxious (p = 0.01) and had lower examination scores (p = 0.006). Doctors felt their personal illness experiences helped them empathise and communicate with patients. Medical students with more life experience were perceived as more mature, empathetic, and better learners; but illness at medical school was recognised to impede learning.
Conclusion
The majority of the medical students and newly qualified doctors we studied reported personal illness experiences, and these experiences were associated with lower undergraduate examination results, higher anxiety, and lower preparedness. However reflection on such experiences may have improved professional attitudes such as empathy and compassion for patients. Future research is warranted in this area.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-50
PMCID: PMC2211477  PMID: 18053231
5.  Loss of international medical experiences: knowledge, attitudes and skills at risk 
Background
Despite the great influence International Medical Experiences (IMs) can have on young physicians and their impact on patients and communities, they are not offered in all training programs and are at risk of being reduced in some due to stringent guidelines for funding of graduate medical education.
Discussion
IMs provide unique experiences in clinical, epidemiologic, cultural, and political arenas. From an educational perspective, they broaden a physician's differential diagnostic skills and introduce clinical entities rarely seen in the U.S.
Time spent in developing countries emphasizes the importance of community health and increases cultural and linguistic competence. Experience working with the underserved during an IM has been shown to increase interest in volunteerism, humanitarian efforts, and work with underserved populations both in the US and abroad. IMs also afford physicians the opportunity to learn about the delivery of health care abroad and are associated with an increase in primary care specialty choice.
Summary
It is time for the leaders in graduate medical education to prioritize international health opportunities. Leaders in academic medicine can press for changes in reimbursement patterns at the national level or special funds for international electives. Hospitals can set up separate accounts to help finance resident salaries and benefits while abroad. Individual departments must be flexible with resident schedules to allow elective time. Medical students and housestaff can organize and lobby larger organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), and specialty groups to make IMs universally accessible.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-47
PMCID: PMC2242732  PMID: 18045481
6.  Foundation doctors in Anaesthesia: should they be taught to administer an anaesthetic? 
Background
Anaesthetic pre-registration house officer posts have been available since 1997. With the change to postgraduate medical training introduced in 2005, these posts have become vital building blocks for Foundation Programmes.
Discussion
We debate the skills that new Foundation Programme doctors in such posts should be taught, particularly whether administration of an anaesthetic holds an important place. The opinion of college tutors prior to the institution of the foundation programme is included. These were obtained from a postal questionnaire.
Summary
We maintain that teaching how to administer an anaesthetic remains an important learning objective and something that should be actively pursued.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-48
PMCID: PMC2206020  PMID: 18045490
7.  Assessment of higher order cognitive skills in undergraduate education: modified essay or multiple choice questions? Research paper 
Background
Reliable and valid written tests of higher cognitive function are difficult to produce, particularly for the assessment of clinical problem solving. Modified Essay Questions (MEQs) are often used to assess these higher order abilities in preference to other forms of assessment, including multiple-choice questions (MCQs). MEQs often form a vital component of end-of-course assessments in higher education. It is not clear how effectively these questions assess higher order cognitive skills. This study was designed to assess the effectiveness of the MEQ to measure higher-order cognitive skills in an undergraduate institution.
Methods
An analysis of multiple-choice questions and modified essay questions (MEQs) used for summative assessment in a clinical undergraduate curriculum was undertaken. A total of 50 MCQs and 139 stages of MEQs were examined, which came from three exams run over two years. The effectiveness of the questions was determined by two assessors and was defined by the questions ability to measure higher cognitive skills, as determined by a modification of Bloom's taxonomy, and its quality as determined by the presence of item writing flaws.
Results
Over 50% of all of the MEQs tested factual recall. This was similar to the percentage of MCQs testing factual recall. The modified essay question failed in its role of consistently assessing higher cognitive skills whereas the MCQ frequently tested more than mere recall of knowledge.
Conclusion
Construction of MEQs, which will assess higher order cognitive skills cannot be assumed to be a simple task. Well-constructed MCQs should be considered a satisfactory replacement for MEQs if the MEQs cannot be designed to adequately test higher order skills. Such MCQs are capable of withstanding the intellectual and statistical scrutiny imposed by a high stakes exit examination.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-49
PMCID: PMC2148038  PMID: 18045500
8.  A clinically integrated curriculum in Evidence-based Medicine for just-in-time learning through on-the-job training: The EU-EBM project 
Background
Over the last years key stake holders in the healthcare sector have increasingly recognised evidence based medicine (EBM) as a means to improving the quality of healthcare. However, there is considerable uncertainty about the best way to disseminate basic knowledge of EBM. As a result, huge variation in EBM educational provision, setting, duration, intensity, content, and teaching methodology exists across Europe and worldwide. Most courses for health care professionals are delivered outside the work context ('stand alone') and lack adaptation to the specific needs for EBM at the learners' workplace. Courses with modern 'adaptive' EBM teaching that employ principles of effective continuing education might fill that gap. We aimed to develop a course for post-graduate education which is clinically integrated and allows maximum flexibility for teachers and learners.
Methods
A group of experienced EBM teachers, clinical epidemiologists, clinicians and educationalists from institutions from eight European countries participated. We used an established methodology of curriculum development to design a clinically integrated EBM course with substantial components of e-learning. An independent European steering committee provided input into the process.
Results
We defined explicit learning objectives about knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour for the five steps of EBM. A handbook guides facilitator and learner through five modules with clinical and e-learning components. Focussed activities and targeted assignments round off the learning process, after which each module is formally assessed.
Conclusion
The course is learner-centred, problem-based, integrated with activities in the workplace and flexible. When successfully implemented, the course is designed to provide just-in-time learning through on-the-job-training, with the potential for teaching and learning to directly impact on practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-46
PMCID: PMC2228282  PMID: 18042271
9.  Oral cancer awareness of undergraduate medical and dental students 
Background
The incidence of oral cancer is increasing in the United Kingdom. Early detection of oral cancers makes them more amenable to treatment and allows the greatest chance of cure. Delay in presentation and/or referral has a significant effect on the associated morbidity and mortality. Lack of general medical practitioner and general dental practitioner oral cancer knowledge has been shown to contribute to delays in referral and treatment. The aim of this study was to investigate the oral cancer awareness of future general medical and general dental practitioners by assessing undergraduate medical and dental students' knowledge of prevention and early detection of oral cancer.
Method
Questionnaires were delivered to undergraduate medical and dental students at the University of Dundee, assessing oral examination habits, delivery of advice on oral cancer risk factors, knowledge of oral cancer risk factors and clinical appearance, preferred point of referral and requests for further information.
Results
Undergraduate medical students were less likely to examine patients' oral mucosa routinely and less likely to advise patients about risk factors for oral cancer. Medical students identified fewer oral cancer risk factors. In particular alcohol use was identified poorly. Medical students also identified fewer oral changes associated with oral cancer. Erythroplakia and erythroleukoplakia were identified poorly. Medical students felt less well informed regarding oral cancer. 86% and 92% of undergraduate medical and dental students respectively requested further information about oral cancer.
Conclusion
This study highlights the need for improved education of undergraduate medical and dental students regarding oral cancer.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-44
PMCID: PMC2213642  PMID: 18005417
10.  Developing health science students into integrated health professionals: a practical tool for learning 
Background
An integrated sense of professionalism enables health professionals to draw on relevant knowledge in context and to apply a set of professional responsibilities and ethical principles in the midst of changing work environments [1,2]. Inculcating professionalism is therefore a critical goal of health professional education. Two multi-professional courses for first year Health Science students at the University of Cape Town, South Africa aim to lay the foundation for becoming an integrated health professional [3]. In these courses a diagram depicting the domains of the integrated health professional is used to focus the content of small group experiential exercises towards an appreciation of professionalism. The diagram serves as an organising framework for conceptualising an emerging professional identity and for directing learning towards the domains of 'self as professional' [4,5].
Objective
This paper describes how a diagrammatic representation of the core elements of an integrated health professional is used as a template for framing course content and for organising student learning. Based on the assumption that all health care professionals should be knowledgeable, empathic and reflective, the diagram provides students and educators with a visual tool for investigating the subjective and objective dimensions of professionalism. The use of the diagram as an integrating point of reference for individual and small group learning is described and substantiated with relevant literature.
Conclusion
The authors have applied the diagram with positive impact for the past six years with students and educators reporting that "it just makes sense". The article includes plans for formal evaluation. Evaluation to date is based on preliminary, informal feedback on the value of the diagram as a tool for capturing the domains of professionalism at an early stage in the undergraduate education of health professional students.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-45
PMCID: PMC2186307  PMID: 18005420
11.  Observed communication skills: how do they relate to the consultation content? A nation-wide study of graduate medical students seeing a standardized patient for a first-time consultation in a general practice setting 
Background
In this study, we wanted to investigate the relationship between background variables, communication skills, and the bio-psychosocial content of a medical consultation in a general practice setting with a standardized patient.
Methods
Final-year medical school students (N = 111) carried out a consultation with an actor playing the role of a patient with a specific somatic complaint, psychosocial stressors, and concerns about cancer. Based on videotapes, communication skills and consultation content were scored separately.
Results
The mean level of overall communication skills had a significant impact upon the counts of psychosocial issues, the patient's concerns about cancer, and the information and planning parts of the consultation content being addressed. Gender and age had no influence upon the relationship between communication skills and consultation content.
Conclusion
Communication skills seem to be important for final-year students' competence in addressing sensitive psychosocial issues and patients' concerns as well as informing and planning with patients being representative for a fairly complex case in general practice. This result should be considered in the design and incorporation of communication skills training as part of the curriculum of medical schools.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-43
PMCID: PMC2213643  PMID: 17996053
12.  Real time curriculum map for internal medicine residency 
Background
To manage the voluminous formal curriculum content in a limited amount of structured teaching time, we describe the development and evaluation of a curriculum map for academic half days (AHD) in a core internal medicine residency program.
Methods
We created a 3-year cyclical curriculum map (an educational tool combining the content, methodology and timetabling of structured teaching), comprising a matrix of topics under various specialties/themes and corresponding AHD hours. All topics were cross-matched against the ACP-ASIM in-training examination, and all hours were colour coded based on the categories of core competencies. Residents regularly updated the map on a real time basis.
Results
There were 208 topics covered in 283 AHD hours. All topics represented core competencies with minimal duplication (78% covered once in 3 years). Only 42 hours (15%) involved non-didactic teaching, which increased after implementation of the map (18–19 hours/year versus baseline 5 hours/year). Most AHD hours (78%) focused on medical expert competencies. Resident satisfaction (90% response) was high throughout (range 3.64 ± 0.21, 3.84 ± 0.14 out of 4), which improved after 1 year but returned to baseline after 2 years.
Conclusion
We developed and implemented an internal medicine curriculum map based on real time resident input, with minimal topic duplication and high resident satisfaction. The map provided an opportunity to balance didactic versus non-didactic teaching, and teaching on medical versus non medical expert topics.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-42
PMCID: PMC2186308  PMID: 17988402
13.  Comparison of a web-based package with tutor-based methods of teaching respiratory medicine: subjective and objective evaluations 
Background
Respiratory disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality not only in the United Kingdom, but globally. A good understanding of respiratory disease and its treatment is essential for all medical graduates. As a result of changes in clinical practice, patients with some common respiratory illnesses are less often admitted to hospital, restricting the experience available to undergraduate students. Combined with a potential shortage of clinical teachers, this means that new methods of teaching need to be developed and appraised. The aim of this study was to establish whether a web-based package on the diagnosis of respiratory disease would be as effective and as acceptable to final year medical students as tutor-led methods of teaching the same material.
Methods
137 out of 315 final year undergraduate students in a single medical school volunteered to take part. Each received up to two hours of tutor-lead interactive, tutor-lead didactic or electronic, Web-based teaching on the accurate diagnosis and management of respiratory disease. Post teaching performance was assessed by multiple true/false questions and data interpretation exercises, whilst students' teaching preferences were assessed by questionnaire.
Results
Despite a high knowledge baseline before the study, there was a small, but statistically significant increase in knowledge score after all forms of teaching. Similarly, data interpretation skills improved in all groups, irrespective of teaching format, Although paradoxically most students expressed a preference for interactive tutor-lead teaching, spirometry interpretation in those receiving web-based teaching improved significantly more [p = 0.041] than in those in the interactive group.
Conclusion
Web-based teaching is at least as good as other teaching formats, but we need to overcome students' reluctance to engage with this teaching method.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-41
PMCID: PMC2180172  PMID: 17976233
14.  Assessment of knowledge retention and the value of proctored ultrasound exams after the introduction of an emergency ultrasound curriculum 
Background
Optimal training required for proficiency in bedside ultrasound is unknown. In addition, the value of proctored training is often assumed but has never been quantified.
Methods
To compare different training regimens for both attending physicians and first year residents (interns), a prospective study was undertaken to assess knowledge retention six months after an introductory ultrasound course. Eighteen emergency physicians and twelve emergency medicine interns were assessed before and 6 months after an introductory ultrasound course using a standardized, image-based ultrasound test. In addition, the twelve emergency medicine interns were randomized to a group which received additional proctored ultrasound hands-on instruction from qualified faculty or to a control group with no hands-on instruction to determine if proctored exam training impacts ultrasound knowledge. Paired and unpaired estimates of the median shift in test scores between groups were made with the Hodges-Lehmann extension of the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test.
Results
Six months after the introductory course, test scores (out of a 24 point test) were a median of 2.0 (95% CI 1.0 to 3.0) points higher for residents in the control group, 5.0 (95% CI 3.0 to 6.0) points higher for residents in the proctored group, and 2.5 (95% CI 1.0 to 4.0) points higher for the faculty group. Residents randomized to undergo proctored ultrasound examinations exhibited a higher score improvement than their cohorts who were not with a median difference of 3.0 (95% CI 1.0 to 5.0) points.
Conclusion
We conclude that significant improvement in knowledge persists six months after a standard introductory ultrasound course, and incorporating proctored ultrasound training into an emergency ultrasound curriculum may yield even higher knowledge retention.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-40
PMCID: PMC2223143  PMID: 17971234
15.  Brain mapping in cognitive disorders: a multidisciplinary approach to learning the tools and applications of functional neuroimaging 
Background
With rapid advances in functional imaging methods, human studies that feature functional neuroimaging techniques are increasing exponentially and have opened a vast arena of new possibilities for understanding brain function and improving the care of patients with cognitive disorders in the clinical setting. There is a growing need for medical centers to offer clinically relevant functional neuroimaging courses that emphasize the multifaceted and multidisciplinary nature of this field. In this paper, we describe the implementation of a functional neuroimaging course focusing on cognitive disorders that might serve as a model for other medical centers. We identify key components of an active learning course design that impact student learning gains in methods and issues pertaining to functional neuroimaging that deserve consideration when optimizing the medical neuroimaging curriculum.
Methods
Learning gains associated with the course were assessed using polychoric correlation analysis of responses to the SALG (Student Assessment of Learning Gains) instrument.
Results
Student gains in the functional neuroimaging of cognition as assessed by the SALG instrument were strongly associated with several aspects of the course design.
Conclusion
Our implementation of a multidisciplinary and active learning functional neuroimaging course produced positive learning outcomes. Inquiry-based learning activities and an online learning environment contributed positively to reported gains. This functional neuroimaging course design may serve as a useful model for other medical centers.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-39
PMCID: PMC2134925  PMID: 17953758
16.  Newly qualified doctors' views about whether their medical school had trained them well: questionnaire surveys 
Background
A survey of newly qualified doctors in the UK in 2000/2001 found that 42% of them felt unprepared for their first year of employment in clinical posts. We report on how UK qualifiers' preparedness has changed since then, and on the impact of course changes upon preparedness.
Methods
Postal questionnaires were sent to all doctors who qualified from UK medical schools, in their first year of clinical work, in 2003 (n = 4257) and 2005 (n = 4784); and findings were compared with those in 2000/2001 (n = 5330). The response rates were 67% in 2000/2001, 65% in 2003, and 43% in 2005. The outcome measure was the percentage of doctors agreeing with the statement "My experience at medical school has prepared me well for the jobs I have undertaken so far".
Results
In the 2000/2001 survey 36.3% strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, as did 50.3% in the 2003 survey and 58.5% in 2005 (chi-squared test for linear trend: χ2 = 259.5; df = 1; p < 0.001). Substantial variation in preparedness between doctors from different medical schools, reported in the first survey, was still present in 2003 and 2005. Between 1998 and 2006 all UK medical schools updated their courses. Within each cohort a significantly higher percentage of the respondents from schools with updated courses felt well prepared.
Conclusion
UK medical schools are now training doctors who feel better prepared for work than in the past. Some of the improvement may be attributable to curricular change.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-38
PMCID: PMC2203980  PMID: 17945007
17.  Medical school faculty discontent: prevalence and predictors of intent to leave academic careers 
Background
Medical school faculty are less enthusiastic about their academic careers than ever before. In this study, we measured the prevalence and determinants of intent to leave academic medicine.
Methods
A 75-question survey was administered to faculty at a School of Medicine. Questions addressed quality of life, faculty responsibilities, support for teaching, clinical work and scholarship, mentoring and participation in governance.
Results
Of 1,408 eligible faculty members, 532 (38%) participated. Among respondents, 224 (40%; CI95: 0.35, 0.44) reported that their careers were not progressing satisfactorily; 236 (42%; CI95: 0.38, 0.46) were "seriously considering leaving academic medicine in the next five years." Members of clinical departments (OR = 1.71; CI95: 1.01, 2.91) were more likely to consider leaving; members of inter-disciplinary centers were less likely (OR = 0.68; CI95: 0.47, 0.98). The predictors of "serious intent to leave" included: Difficulties balancing work and family (OR = 3.52; CI95: 2.34, 5.30); inability to comment on performance of institutional leaders (OR = 3.08; CI95: 2.07, 4.72); absence of faculty development programs (OR = 3.03; CI95: 2.00, 4.60); lack of recognition of clinical work (OR = 2.73; CI95: 1.60, 4.68) and teaching (OR = 2.47; CI95: 1.59, 3.83) in promotion evaluations; absence of "academic community" (OR = 2.67; CI95: 1.86, 3.83); and failure of chairs to evaluate academic progress regularly (OR = 2.60; CI95: 1.80, 3.74).
Conclusion
Faculty are a medical school's key resource, but 42 percent are seriously considering leaving. Medical schools should refocus faculty retention efforts on professional development programs, regular performance feedback, balancing career and family, tangible recognition of teaching and clinical service and meaningful faculty participation in institutional governance.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-37
PMCID: PMC2194670  PMID: 17935631
18.  Family physicians' perceptions of academic detailing: a quantitative and qualitative study 
Background
The efficacy of academic detailing in changing physicians' knowledge and practice has been the subject of many primary research publications and systematic reviews. However, there is little written about the features of academic detailing that physicians find valuable or that affect their use of it. The goal of our project was to explore family physicians' (FPs) perceptions of academic detailing and the factors that affect their use of it.
Methods
We used 2 methods to collect data, a questionnaire and semi-structured telephone interviews. We mailed questionnaires to all FPs in the Dalhousie Office of Continuing Medical Education database and analyzed responses of non-users and users of academic detailing. After a preliminary analysis of questionnaire data, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 7 FPs who did not use academic detailing and 17 who did use it.
Results
Overall response rate to the questionnaire was 33% (289/869). Response rate of non-users of academic detailing was 15% (60/393), of users was 48% (229/476). The 3 factors that most encouraged use of academic detailing were the topics selected, the evidence-based approach adopted, and the handout material. The 3 factors that most discouraged the use of academic detailing were spending office time doing CME, scheduling time to see the academic detailer, and having CME provided by a non-physician. Users of academic detailing rated it as being more valuable than other forms of CME. Generally, interview data confirmed questionnaire data with the exception that interview informants did not view having CME provided by a non-physician as a barrier. Interview informants mentioned that the evidence-based approach adopted by academic detailing had led them to more critically evaluate information from other CME programs, pharmaceutical representatives, and journal articles, but not advice from specialists.
Conclusion
Users of academic detailing highly value its educational value and tend to view information from other sources more critically because of its evidence-based approach. Non-users are unlikely to adopt academic detailing despite its high educational value because they find using office time for CME too much of a barrier. To reach these physicians with academic detailing messages, we will have to find other CME formats.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-36
PMCID: PMC2099423  PMID: 17935614
19.  Curriculum factors influencing knowledge of communication skills among medical students 
Background
Communication training builds on the assumption that understanding of the concepts related to professional communication facilitates the training. We know little about whether students' knowledge of clinical communication skills is affected by their attendance of communication training courses, or to what degree other elements of the clinical training or curriculum design also play a role. The aim of this study was to determine which elements of the curriculum influence acquisition of knowledge regarding clinical communication skills by medical students.
Methods
The study design was a cross-sectional survey performed in the four Norwegian medical schools with different curricula, spring 2003. A self-administered questionnaire regarding knowledge of communication skills (an abridged version of van Dalen's paper-and-pencil test) was sent to all students attending the four medical schools. A total of 1801 (59%) students responded with complete questionnaires.
Results
At the end of the 1st year of study, the score on the knowledge test was higher in students at the two schools running communication courses and providing early patient contact (mean 81%) than in the other two medical schools (mean 69–75%, P ≤ 0.001), with students studying a traditional curriculum scoring the lowest. Their scores increased sharply towards the end of the 3rd year, during which they had been subjected to extensive patient contact and had participated in an intensive communication course (77% vs. 72% the previous year, P ≤ 0.01). All students scored generally lower in academic years in which there was no communication training. However, at the end of the final year the difference between the schools was only 5% (81% vs. 86%, P ≤ 0.001).
Conclusion
The acquisition of knowledge regarding communication skills by medical students may be optimised when the training is given together with extensive supervised patient contact, especially if this teaching takes place in the initial years of the curriculum.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-35
PMCID: PMC2089059  PMID: 17925041
20.  Improving the teaching skills of residents as tutors/facilitators and addressing the shortage of faculty facilitators for PBL modules 
Background
Residents play an important role in teaching of medical undergraduate students. Despite their importance in teaching undergraduates they are not involved in any formal training in teaching and leadership skills. We aimed to compare the teaching skills of residents with faculty in facilitating small group Problem Based Learning (PBL) sessions.
Methods
This quasi experimental descriptive comparative research involved 5 postgraduate year 4 residents and five senior faculty members. The study was conducted with all phase III (Final year) students rotating in Gastroenterology. The residents and faculty members received brief training of one month in facilitation and core principles of adult education. Different aspects of teaching skills of residents and faculty were evaluated by students on a questionnaire (graded on Likert Scale from 1 to 10) assessing i) Knowledge Base-content Learning (KBL), ii) PBL, iii) Student Centered Learning (SCL) and iv) Group Skills (GS).
Results
There were 33 PBL teaching sessions in which 120 evaluation forms were filled; out of these 53% forms were filled for residents and 47% for faculty group. The faculty showed a statistically greater rating in "KBL" (faculty 8.37 Vs resident 7.94; p-value 0.02), "GS" (faculty 8.06 vs. residents 7.68; p-value 0.04). Differences in faculty and resident scores in "the PBL" and "SCL" were not significant. The overall score of faculty facilitators, however, was statistically significant for resident facilitators. (p = .05).
Conclusion
1) Residents are an effective supplement to faculty members for PBL; 2) Additional facilitators for PBL sessions can be identified in an institution by involvement of residents in teacher training workshops.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-34
PMCID: PMC2089058  PMID: 17919342
21.  What orthopaedic surgery residents need to know about the hand and wrist? 
Background
To develop a Core Curriculum for Orthopaedic Surgery; and to conduct a national survey to assess the importance of curriculum items as judged by orthopaedic surgeons with primary affiliation non-academic. Attention for this manuscript was focused on determining the importance of topics pertaining to adult hand and wrist reconstruction.
Methods
A 281-item questionnaire was developed and consisted of three sections: 1) Validated Musculoskeletal Core Curriculum; 2) Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) Specialty Objectives and; 3) A procedure list. A random group of 131 [out of 156] orthopaedic surgeons completed the questionnaire. Data were analyzed descriptively and quantitatively using histograms, a Modified Hotel ling's T2-statistic [1] with p-value determined by a permutation test, and the Benjamini-Hochberg/Yekutieli procedure
Results
131/156 (84%) orthopaedic surgeons participated in this study. 27/32 items received an average mean score of at least 3.0/4.0 by all respondents thus suggesting that 84% of the items are either "probably important" or "important" to know by the end of residency (SD range 0.007–0.228). The Benjamini-Hochberg procedure demonstrated that for 80% of the 32 × 31/2 = 496 possible pairs of hand and wrist questions did not appear to demonstrate the same distribution of ratings given that one question was different from that of another question.
Conclusion
This study demonstrates with reliable statistical evidence, agreement on the importance of 27/32 items pertaining to hand and wrist reconstruction is included in a Core Curriculum for Orthopaedic Surgery. Residency training programs need ensure that educational opportunities focusing on the ability to perform with proficiency procedures pertaining to the hand and wrist is taught and evaluated in their respective programs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-33
PMCID: PMC2175502  PMID: 17919336
22.  A method for creating interactive content for the iPod, and its potential use as a learning tool: Technical Advances 
Background
Podcasting is currently a popular means of delivery of information with a large number of podcasts specifically tailored for educational purposes. It can be argued that the passive nature of this teaching methodology limits the educational benefit that can be derived from podcasts. This paper describes the development and construction of interactive material for the iPod, and a survey of student attitudes towards this type of learning material.
Methods
The development of interactive material for an iPod is described in detail. This material was developed and demonstrated to 50 medical students. These students completed a paper-based survey on the potential uses of this technology, before and after a 20 minute presentation in class of an interactive case-study on an iPod.
Results
A technical description of how to develop interactive content for the iPod was created. The results of the student survey indicate a favourable shift in student attitudes after viewing the interactive case. Despite only 15% of the students owning an iPod, 57% of the students were positive about having access to interactive iPod content and 59% believed they would use it whilst travelling. The percentage of students who felt podcasting was a useful means of learning increased from 9% to 41%.
Conclusion
The development of interactive content for the iPod is feasible. There are indications that students view interactive iPod cases as having value as an additional learning resource.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-32
PMCID: PMC2174451  PMID: 17888168
23.  Factors considered by medical students when formulating their specialty preferences in Japan: findings from a qualitative study 
Background
Little research addresses how medical students develop their choice of specialty training in Japan. The purpose of this research was to elucidate factors considered by Japanese medical students when formulating their specialty choice.
Methods
We conducted qualitative interviews with 25 Japanese medical students regarding factors influencing specialty preference and their views on roles of primary versus specialty care. We qualitatively analyzed the data to identify factors students consider when developing specialty preferences, to understand their views about primary and subspecialty care, and to construct models depicting the pathways to specialization.
Results
Students mention factors such as illness in self or close others, respect for family member in the profession, preclinical experiences in the curriculum such as labs and dissection, and aspects of patient care such as the clinical atmosphere, charismatic role models, and doctor-patient communication as influential on their specialty preferences. Participating students could generally distinguish between subspecialty care and primary care, but not primary care and family medicine. Our analysis yields a "Two Career" model depicting how medical graduates can first train for hospital-based specialty practice, and then switch to mixed primary/specialty care outpatient practice years later without any requirement for systematic training in principles of primary care practice.
Conclusion
Preclinical and clinical experiences as well as role models are reported by Japanese students as influential factors when formulating their specialty preferences. Student understanding of family medicine as a discipline is low in Japan. Students with ultimate aspirations to practice outpatient primary care medicine do not need to commit to systematic primary care training after graduation. The Two Career model of specialization leaves the door open for medical graduates to enter primary care practice at anytime regardless of post-graduate residency training choice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-31
PMCID: PMC2072940  PMID: 17848194
24.  Attitude of medical students towards Early Clinical Exposure in learning endocrine physiology 
Background
Different teaching-learning methods have been used in teaching endocrine physiology for the medical students, so as to increase their interest and enhance their learning. This paper describes the pros and cons of the various approaches used to reinforce didactic instruction in endocrine physiology and goes on to describe the value of adding an Early Clinical Exposure program (ECE) to didactic instruction in endocrine physiology, as well as student reactions to it as an alternative approach.
Discussion
Various methods have been used to reinforce didactic instruction in endocrine physiology such as case-stimulated learning, problem-based learning, patient-centred learning and multiple-format sessions. We devised a teaching-learning intervention in endocrine physiology, which comprised of traditional didactic lectures, supplemented with an ECE program consisting of case based lectures and a hospital visit to see patients. A focus group discussion was conducted with the medical students and, based on the themes that emerged from it, a questionnaire was developed and administered to further enquire into the attitude of all the students towards ECE in learning endocrine physiology.
The students in their feedback commented that ECE increased their interest for the subject and motivated them to read more. They also felt that ECE enhanced their understanding of endocrine physiology, enabled them to remember the subject better, contributed to their knowledge of the subject and also helped them to integrate their knowledge. Many students said that ECE increased their sensitivity toward patient problems and needs. They expressed a desire and a need for ECE to be continued in teaching endocrine physiology for future groups of students and also be extended for teaching other systems as well. The majority of the students (96.4%) in their feedback gave an overall rating of the program as good to excellent on a 5 point Likert scale.
Summary
The ECE program was introduced as an alternative approach to reinforce didactic instruction in endocrine physiology for the first year medical students. The study demonstrated that students clearly enjoyed the experience and perceived that it was valuable. This method could potentially be used for other basic science topics as well.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-30
PMCID: PMC2045084  PMID: 17784967
25.  The influence of personal and environmental factors on professionalism in medical education 
Background
Professionalism is a critical quality for physicians to possess. Physician professionalism has received increased attention in recent years, with many authorities suggesting that professionalism is in decline. An understanding of the factors contributing to professionalism may allow the development of more effective approaches to promoting this quality in medical education.
Discussion
We propose a model of personal and environmental factors that contribute to physician professionalism. Personal factors include distress/well-being, individual characteristics, and interpersonal qualities. Environmental factors include institutional culture, formal and informal curricula, and practice characteristics. Promotion of professionalism requires efforts directed at each of these elements.
Summary
One responsibility of medical education is to foster the development of professionalism among its learners. Both personal and environmental factors play a role in physician professionalism. Accordingly, institutions should consider these factors as efforts to promote physician professionalism evolve.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-29
PMCID: PMC2064917  PMID: 17760986

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