Assessment of a new undergraduate module in musculoskeletal medicine.
BACKGROUND: Despite the high prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders seen by primary care physicians, numerous studies have demonstrated deficiencies in the adequacy of musculoskeletal education at multiple stages of medical education. The aim of this study was to assess a newly developed module in musculoskeletal medicine for use at European undergraduate level (i.e., the medical-school level).
METHODS: A two-week module in musculoskeletal medicine was designed to cover common musculoskeletal disorders that are typically seen in primary care. The module incorporated an integrated approach, including core lectures, bedside clinical examination, and demonstration of basic practical procedures. A previously validated examination in musculoskeletal medicine was used to assess the cognitive knowledge of ninety-two students on completion of the module. A historical control group (seventy-two students) from a prior course was used for comparison.
RESULTS: The new module group (2009) performed significantly better than the historical (2006) control group in terms of score (62.3% versus 54.3%, respectively; p < 0.001) and pass rate (38.4% versus 12.5%, respectively; p = 0.0002). In a subgroup analysis of the new module group, students who enrolled in the graduate entry program (an accelerated four-year curriculum consisting of students who have already completed an undergraduate university degree) were more likely to perform better in terms of average score (72.2% versus 57%, respectively; p < 0.001) and pass rates (70.9% versus 21.4%, respectively; p < 0.001) compared with students who had enrolled via the traditional undergraduate route. In terms of satisfaction rates, the new module group reported a significantly higher satisfaction rate than that reported by the historical control group (63% versus 15%, respectively; p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, the musculoskeletal module described in this paper represents an educational advance at undergraduate (i.e., medical-school) level as demonstrated by the improvement in scores in a validated examination. As pressure on medical curricula grows to accommodate advancing medical knowledge, it is important to continue to improve, assess, and consolidate the position of musculoskeletal medicine in contemporary medical education.