Pradip D. Patel, MD, Scott G. Bickel, MD, Dan B. Kischnick, MD, Craig H. Ziegler, MS, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY
Background: Peer-assisted learning (PAL) or near-peer education (NPE) is the signature teaching/learning strategy of training young physicians. In most cases, such teaching takes place informally via interactions with higher-level medical students and/or residents during patient rounds or in the process of patient care. Increasingly, NPE is occurring in more formalized settings and becoming an entrenched component of medical education. The majority of reported NPE has taken place in the pre-clinical years, but there is growing evidence that NPE can be as effective during the clinical years of training. Objectives: 1) To implement an interactive NPE program for third-year students during their pediatric clerkship to assist them in preparing for their National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) “shelf” exam, 2) to provide information on pediatrics from upperclassmen, 3) to allow fourth-year students to gain experience in a teaching role, and 4) to evaluate the utility of this process. Design/Methods: Four fourth-year tutors developed three optional, interactive sessions to review shelf style questions with third-year students. Students worked in teams of 3-4, answering questions using an audience response device. Tutors would review each question, focusing on relevant content with an emphasis on diagnostic and clinical reasoning. At the start and end of each clerkship, 148 students were given a survey to assess studying preferences and whether the program was meeting the above objectives. Results: Students reported attending an average of two sessions. At the end of their clerkship, 87.9% of respondents felt NPE was useful, and 98.3% of respondents indicated they sought advice from upperclassmen with regards to studying. The program is in its second year with continued high attendance. The Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs has stated the pediatric NPE program should be used as a model to implement NPE programs in all third-year clerkships. One clerkship, OB/GYN, has already done so. Conclusions: NPE can be an effective adjunct to traditional teaching methods in the clerkship years. Students view it as a useful tool in preparing for exams and it allows fourth-year students to gain valuable teaching skills that will assist them in residency.