Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP survey study!!!

Developmental-Behavioral Pediatric Teaching of Medical Students: A National COMSEP Survey. Soares N et al. Teaching and Learning in Medicine 2014;26(4):366-72.

Reviewed by Molly Rideout

What was the study question?
How is developmental-behavioral pediatrics (DBP) taught in clerkship programs and how are competencies assessed? What are barriers to implementation of a DBP curriculum?

How was the study done?
Within the 2010 COMSEP survey, there were 17 questions (out of 60) that addressed the study aims. Only responses from Clerkship Directors were analyzed.

What were the results?
93.7% of respondents indicated that their programs followed the COMSEP curriculum (which includes a DBP component). General pediatricians were primarily responsible for delivery of DBP topics (87%), with only 53% of programs reporting DBP subspecialist participation in teaching. Clinical experiences, case readings (CLIPP, etc), and didactic lectures were the most commonly used teaching methods. The most common activities were the adolescent (“HEADSS”) interview and the neonatal neuromotor exam. Observation activities most commonly used were counseling on common behavior problems and administration of parent report screening tools. The most common assessment methods were posttests and feedback from faculty. 18% of programs reported not assessing DBP competencies. Time constraints were the most frequently reported (61.8%) barrier to implementing DBP curriculum.

What are the implications of these findings?
Although the vast majority of clerkship programs have a DBP component, only about half of programs have a DBP subspecialist teaching the content. Since general pediatricians are usually responsible for teaching DBP, it is essential for programs to collaborate with subspecialists trained in DBP for content creation and faculty development. DBP subspecialists may be less committed to teaching medical students since DBP is not a mandatory part of the clerkship as it is for residency.

Editor's note: It is always difficult to decide what proportion of the small amount of students' time on the pediatrics clerkship should be spent learning about each content area included in the COMSEP curriculum, and sometimes the lure of teaching about acute diseases out shadows some of the behavioral areas that are such an important underpinning for all areas of pediatric practice. Finding ways to deliver this extremely important content is an important task for clerkship directors (LL).

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