James Graham, MD University of Arkansas College of Medicine, Little Rock, Arkansas
Objectives: Much of the mentoring that occurs during clinical training occurs in an informal and often haphazard manner. The need for formal feedback is well recognized. It is difficult for a clerkship director to provide individualized mentoring or advisement to all students. The purpose of this project was to develop a formal advisor program for students rotating on a pediatric clerkship.
Methods: Pediatric faculty were selected and recruited to serve as student advisors and participated in an orientation session. Students are asked to complete a pre-clerkship questionnaire as a basis for initial discussion with their advisor. Students meet with their advisor three times during the eight-week clerkship. Each visit has specific written objectives and a brief written report is generated from each meeting.
Results: A total of 76 students have rotated through the clerkship since the formal advisor program began in July, 2006. Although some students self reported competency on some generic clinical skills (such as prescription writing), few reported competency in pediatric specific skills on the pre-clerkship questionnaire. Student goals for the clerkship and a plan to achieve those goals are discussed in the first meeting. Subsequent meetings track the student's progress toward those goals. On several occasions, specific issues were brought to the attention of the clerkship director by faculty advisors, who serve very much as student advocates.
Conclusions: Although formal evaluation of the advisor program is not complete, initial results are quite encouraging. The use of formalized meetings with specific goals helps to develop and track individualized learning plans for students.