Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2010 Albuquerque Meeting


Heather Johnston, MD, Pediatrics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL


Background: Aspects of the informal and hidden curricula relating to professionalism receive inconsistent attention in student training. Often these topics occur during patient care, and are often addressed in an ad-hoc manner, providing no guarantees of an adequate learning experience. Reflective writing addresses these issues: students get a wider range of opportunities to raise compelling issues, and discussion can occur in a more nurturing environment. A weblog (blog) provides a uniquely suited environment for supporting reflective writing because it offers anonymity, facilitates sharing and allows feedback from a wider range of people. Goals: 1. Create a setting in which students can anonymously share experiences 2. Increase the number of thought-provoking events to which each student is exposed 3. Give each student feedback from people with different levels of training: peers, residents and faculty. Description: The blog is accessible only to the students at Pritzker School of Medicine during their pediatrics clerkship.  Students are assigned numerical usernames, and are required to write one reflective piece related to professionalism and to give feedback three times on other students’ writings. Feedback is also provided by anonymous “blog preceptors” – faculty and residents, identified only by rank. Results: Data from post-clerkship surveys shows that this is a successful model: the 45 students enjoyed the experience (91% enjoyed reading on the blog, 71% enjoyed writing on it), 78% feel they were certainly or probably better prepared to respond confidently in future situations. 82% felt their feedback was helpful. 38% preferred to get their feedback from their peers, 52% from faculty, and 12% from residents.  82% wanted to continue using the blog beyond their pediatrics clerkship. Discussion: Students enjoy the blog approach to learning about professionalism and identify it as a method likely to impact their future decision-making. This design optimizes feedback for the student. Future related projects include: (a) qualitative analysis of feedback comments by level of training of feedback-giver, (b) development of blog in to a longitudinal reflective writing course for all four years of medical school and (c) use of reflective pieces and feedback in student portfolios.