English R*, Knoebel E†, Yang T*, Chauvin S*. (*Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, †Mayo Clinic)
Objectives: Prior to July 2003, the core curriculum of the LSUHSC Pediatrics clerkship was delivered to the students through a series of lectures. Student dissatisfaction and an interest in problem-based learning (PBL) techniques led the clerkship directors to develop and implement a small group program which would replace lectures and enable students to focus on self-study and problem solving skills. This new program is entitled Pediatrics Forums. Our goal was to examine the effectiveness of this program change over the first year
Methods: A mixed-methods program evaluation model was used. Students completed a voluntary, confidential questionnaire regarding feedback they received and patient contact time at the end of the clerkship and responses were compared to a cohort of students from the previous year. Aesculapian society course evaluation reports were analyzed and compared with those from the previous year. Final examination scores were compared with the scores from the previous two years. Faculty facilitators were surveyed via a Web Q.
Results: Students in the Forums reported a statistically significant increase in the amount of specific feedback they received regarding their development of clinical problem solving skills. Course evaluation report analysis revealed that students preferred small groups to lectures, although concerns over the large amount of material required in self-study were reported. Examination scores and patient contact time remained unchanged. Faculty facilitators reported that although the Forums is time-consuming, it is an effective educational component of the clerkship.
Conclusions: Pediatrics Forums is an effective educational program which improves feedback to students and provides them with opportunities to develop clinical problem solving skills without affecting examination scores or patient contact time. Further research on the effect of this program on students' clinical problem solving skills is ongoing.