Medical students aren’t showing up to lectures, so how do med schools teach them : Shots


Many medical college students don’t attend lectures within the first two years, as an alternative opting to observe recorded courses on their very own time.

Tom Fowlks/Getty Photos

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Tom Fowlks/Getty Photos

Many medical college students don’t attend lectures within the first two years, as an alternative opting to observe recorded courses on their very own time.

Tom Fowlks/Getty Photos

Throughout my first two years as a medical scholar, I virtually by no means went to lectures. Neither did my friends. In truth, I estimate that not even 1 / 4 of medical college students in my class constantly attended courses in particular person. One among my professors, Dr. Philip Gruppuso, says in his 40 years of instructing, in-person lecture attendance is the bottom he is seen. Even earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, first- and second-year medical college students usually skipped lectures. As an alternative, they opted to observe the recordings at dwelling on their very own time. The pandemic accelerated the shift. This absence from the classroom has lots of people within the medical schooling system questioning how it will have an effect on future medical doctors, and has precipitated huge dialogue amongst medical establishments. Medical schooling is altering quickly, and the change is being pushed by college students — so how do colleges incorporate the fact of digital studying whereas coaching them adequately for the large accountability of affected person care?

“Flip” the classroom for the primary two years

The primary half of medical schooling (historically the primary one to 2 years, that are additionally generally referred to as the preclerkship years) prepares college students to succeed in the course of the second half of medical faculty, clerkships, the place college students work straight with affected person care groups. Preclerkship medical schooling is the place college students be taught the technical components of being a health care provider earlier than seeing sufferers. It consists of lectures in medical science — anatomy, embryology, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology — and well being system science – ethics, professionalism and public well being. And it goes past lectures. It consists of dissecting a human physique in anatomy lab, practising learn how to interview a affected person and conduct a bodily examination (usually utilizing affected person actors) and quite a few small group dialogue classes linked to particular lectures.

Digital studying throughout these vital first two years for me had some vital downsides. I used to be unable to ask questions of a prerecorded lecturer. Scholar-teacher relationships, one of many elements of medical schooling I used to be most wanting ahead to, grew to become a lot more durable to domesticate. It was isolating at occasions.

Dr. Gruppuso and I began speaking and we have now a number of ideas on learn how to change the medical schooling system to mitigate these downsides whereas supporting college students in a call they’ve already made to be taught on their very own time.

Our proposal is that this: make use of the “flipped classroom” mannequin extensively for preclerkship medical faculty lectures. On this mannequin, the in-person lecture all however disappears, and college students be taught many of the classroom-type materials on their very own earlier than in-person time — therefore the flip. We advise beginning with a collection of digital modules to arrange for case-based small group classes held in particular person. Actions resembling anatomy lab, affected person interviewing and bodily examination observe and particular visitor lectures would stay in-person. This, in essence, embraces the digital lecture trajectory however requires precise attendance for small group hands-on studying.

A medical scholar’s perspective — Alexander Philips

Let me begin by saying, I did get pleasure from benefits of digital lectures. Pausing, rewinding, re-watching, and dashing up the talks was a good way to concentrate on my weak areas and save time, and time was my most useful useful resource as a medical scholar, given the sheer quantity of data to be discovered. Digital studying made it a lot simpler for me to include non-lecture assets into my research plan, too, resembling flash playing cards, internet tutorials or lectures by third events.

Within the flipped classroom state of affairs, my typical day would possibly contain a morning of watching brief, focused medical science modules, with pauses in between so I might draw diagrams, research on-line flash playing cards, and browse and watch different assets. Then, I’d have an hour or two of required in-person case-based small group dialogue with my professors and classmates the place we concentrate on the medical functions of that medical science by discussing hypothetical affected person instances. Different days can be dedicated to anatomy lab, medical expertise observe with standardized sufferers (affected person actors) underneath the direct supervision of college, shadowing within the hospital, and non-structured time for different actions like analysis, advocacy and group service.

Along with permitting for discussions and attending to know professors and fellow college students, it will give some regularity to my schedule. Within the present system, with the comfort of recorded lectures, I used to be by myself to maintain on monitor with the fabric and it was simpler to fall behind.

A professor’s perspective — Dr. Philip Gruppuso

I’ve taught medical college students for practically 40 years in lots of contexts – on hospital rounds, throughout affected person appointments, working small group discussions, and instructing giant courses. I’ve lectured on subjects that vary from biochemical pathways to life-style illnesses (these linked to issues like bodily inactivity) to diet science and the biology of growing older.

Probably the most gratifying a part of instructing is passing alongside the much less tangible features of being a doctor — learn how to present respect for all sufferers and be a real caregiver. I do that by telling tales about my medical expertise throughout lectures and the payoff for me is engagement with college students. The pandemic and its attendant shift in how college students discovered modified all of that.

Totally digital studying for the primary two years of faculty might have been obligatory in the course of the pandemic, however persevering with to do that would ailing put together younger adults to be physicians.

The intrinsically private nature of medication taught in medical expertise curricula or human physique dissection can’t be captured in a studying format that’s intrinsically impersonal. There’s additionally extra to preclerkship schooling; different facilitators of holistic doctor coaching like analysis, specialty exploration, and volunteer work, are virtually unimaginable with digital studying.

Lastly, there’s a very actual risk to the medical schooling enterprise in altering the position of the doctor school member. Docs are uncommon amongst professions within the expectation that they are going to educate no matter the place and what specialty they observe. Take away the gratification that comes with face-to-face instructing and we danger dropping the dedication of college, a lot of which is usually carried out on a wholly voluntary foundation.

Medical schooling at an inflection level — our joint take

Within the dialogue of what post-pandemic medical schooling would possibly appear to be, some have referred to as for the preclerkship years to be totally digital. Development to clerkships can be decided by competency (ie. have you ever mastered the coursework) slightly than time. However we favor a much less excessive incorporation of digital studying that depends on this flipped classroom.

The Warren Alpert Medical Faculty of Brown College, amongst different colleges, is more and more implementing this method. The worth of interplay with friends, asking questions, and constructing relationships with lecturers is best and most time-efficient when college students have a radical understanding of the basic frameworks and key ideas of the underlying science. That framework can typically be constructed extra effectively in a tailor-made digital setting the place college students can really work on their weaknesses, permitting faculty school to concentrate on serving to college students apply that data to caring for sufferers. Academics may additionally complement these discussions by sharing experiences about how they identified and handled particular sufferers working in organizations and communities through which medical college students will serve throughout their clerkships. Disposing of the bigger in-person medical science lectures and specializing in growing or sourcing high-quality digital content material attracts on the strengths of digital studying; diverting saved time and assets in the direction of optimizing common in-person case-based small group classes with school and different college students mitigates the drawbacks of digital studying.

Medical schooling is at an inflection level. A conventional vs. flipped preclerkship medical science classroom is only one of a number of choices we face when fascinated by learn how to practice the subsequent technology of physicians. For instance, the next questions are intimately intertwined with the position of digital studying in medical schooling, and are concurrently being debated in colleges throughout the nation.

  1. What’s the position of medical science coursework in medical schooling? The USMLE Step 1 Examination is the primary licensing examination to turning into a doctor and primarily exams medical science ideas. The transfer in the direction of a shortened preclerkship schooling time period will solely be accelerated by a current shift of the examination to go/fail. Encouraging college students to start viewing drugs from a medical lens earlier of their coaching is an efficient, however much less time spent constructing a deep understanding of mechanisms of illness and therapy can undermine the muse for medical schooling.
  2. To what extent can or ought to preclerkship medical science schooling combine exterior assets to effectively educate content material? Medical college students have already been embracing a shift in the direction of exterior assets for years through a self-directed curriculum to both complement or change medical faculty lectures. This has been occurring principally impartial of enter from school or administration.
  3. If the price of offering lectures decreases in gentle of reusable or simply updatable digital content material, presumably standardized throughout colleges, the ensuing efficiencies might conceivably decrease the price of schooling. If that may be completed, ought to medical tuition lower to replicate this? In that case, this will imply broader entry to medical schooling, much less scholar mortgage burden, and fewer boundaries to pursuing careers in lower-paying specialties, together with main care. Conversely, the time and college intensive nature of extra small group classes might improve price burden to varsities.
  4. Will the advantages of those academic reforms be accessible to all? For college students who enter medical faculty from much less advantaged academic backgrounds, together with college students with neurodivergence or these from teams underrepresented in drugs (URiM), on-line coursework might end in poorer academic outcomes. Conversely, neurodivergent learners might profit from customized studying modules; URiM college students and people who historically have much less entry to school might have extra face-to-face studying time. As schooling shifts to a digital format, it’s vital that its results throughout all the scholar inhabitants be evaluated.

These questions are a lot more durable to reply than a query of whether or not flipped lecture rooms deserve an elevated position in preclerkship medical schooling. However these selections aren’t all or nothing. Change needs to be made with an understanding of the tradeoffs, and with the foresight to mitigate the unfavourable penalties of these adjustments.

Medical colleges have to get preclerkship medical schooling proper. The sturdy basis from my (Alexander Philips’) first two years of medical faculty was what helped me diagnose, admit, deal with, and discharge my first affected person only a few weeks in the past as a 3rd yr medical scholar on my first clerkship. We consider the rapid subsequent step for preclerkship medical science medical schooling is evident. A flipped classroom, and thus an elevated position for digital studying within the preclerkship years of medical faculty, is a promising mannequin. Can we protect the broad objectives of preclerkship medical schooling whereas supporting medical college students in a call they’ve already made to be taught on their very own time? We consider the reply is sure.

Alexander P. Philips is a third-year medical scholar at Brown College and Tweets @AlexPPhilips. Dr. Philip Gruppuso is the previous Affiliate Dean for Medical Schooling and at the moment teaches at Brown. This piece solely represents the angle of the 2 authors, who want to thank Dr. B. Star Hampton and Dr. Sarita Warrier with Brown College, for his or her enter.