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An online case-based teaching and assessment program on clinical history-taking skills and reasoning using simulated patients in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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posted on 2023-01-11, 17:11 authored by Barbara Duffy, Roisin TullyRoisin Tully, Alice V StantonAlice V Stanton

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for medical students and educators worldwide. Groups 1, 2 and 3 of year 3, semester 2 medical students at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (n = 275) had only completed 2, 5 and 7 weeks, respectively, of their scheduled 10-week clinical medicine and surgery attachments, prior to the Irish shutdown of all in-person non-essential activities, including medical student education.

Methods: We developed and delivered an online case-based program, focused on history-taking skills and clinical reasoning, using simulated patients and video technologies. 12 tutorials were delivered over 6 weeks to 35 subgroups of 8 students in line with program learning outcomes. Both simulated patients (n = 36), and tutors (n = 45, from retired clinical professors to newly graduated physicians), were rapidly upskilled in Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams, and also in the provision of constructive feedback. We evaluated this newly developed program by the following three criteria: student attendance, achieved grades, and student feedback.

Results: Attendance at the 12 tutorials was higher amongst group 1 and 2 students (75 and 73%) by comparison with group 3 students (60%) (p = < 0.001). Of the 273 students that sat the Year 3 Semester 2 online long case assessment, 93% were successful. Despite group 1 students having the least prior clinical experience, results were similar to those of groups 2 and 3 (1st honors, 2nd honors, pass, and fail grades for group 1, 39%, 33%, 23% and 6%; group 2, 34%, 41%, 17% and 8%; group 3, 39%, 25%, 28% and 7%) (p = 0.48). An increased attendance rate at tutorials was associated with higher numbers of honors grades (p = < 0.001). Anonymous feedback from the students demonstrated considerable satisfaction with program: > 85% agreed that the online program was interactive and very educational.

Conclusions: Use of online video technology, tutors of varied experience, and simulated patients were demonstrated to replicate patient encounters, and to facilitate the development of clinical skills remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

History

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The original article is available at https://bmcmededuc.biomedcentral.com/

Published Citation

Duffy B, Tully R, Stanton AV. An online case-based teaching and assessment program on clinical history-taking skills and reasoning using simulated patients in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Med Educ. 2023;23(1):4.

Publication Date

4 January 2023

PubMed ID

36600232

Department/Unit

  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences
  • School of Medicine

Publisher

BiomedCentral

Version

  • Published Version (Version of Record)