Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

Use of the Debate-Style Format to Teach Evidence-Based Medicine in the Pediatrics Clerkship

Marieka . Helou,Childrens Hospital of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine,Richmond,VA,Clifton C. Lee,Childrens Hospital of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine,Richmond,VA,Dawn M. Landschoot,Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine,Richmond,VA,Michael S. Ryan,Childrens Hospital of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine,Richmond,VA

Background:   Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is an integral component of modern medical school education.  In the allied health literature, dental school curriculums have used the “debate-style” of teaching to incorporate active learning strategies and more effectively teach EBM.   To date, the debate-style has not been described as a means for teaching EBM in medical school.     We will describe the development, implementation, and initial data related to our integration of EBM debates in the pediatrics clerkship at our institution. 

 Methods:  At the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, students are required to participate in an EBM project during each clerkship.  This academic year in pediatrics, we selected topics where controversy exists in clinical practice. Each block, students are assigned a topic, and split into pro / con teams.  Detailed instructions are provided at orientation and debates take place in the last week.  The objective is to provide the most convincing case for the assigned position using supportable facts from the literature.  Faculty judges score the debates and determine a winner.   In addition, we have obtained IRB approval to formally assess feasibility, satisfaction, and efficacy as a teaching method.  The Fresno Test is a validated tool designed to objectively assess medical students’ competence in utilizing EBM skills.  We are currently administering pre and post Fresno tests and piloting satisfaction surveys.

 Results:   To date, a total of 71 students have participated in the EBM debates during the pediatrics clerkship.  We received 32 completed paired pre and post-tests and 70 surveys.  Preliminary results and informal verbal feedback reveal seeming success in student learning and satisfaction.  Plans moving forward will include giving them protected time to increase response rate on the post-tests.

 Discussion:  Using debate to promote acquisition and retention of EBM skills was feasible and well received in our pilot program.  The format promotes participants to work through obstacles in applying EBM to clinical practice and allows for immediate feedback and teamwork opportunities.    Further results from our research on efficacy and satisfaction will be available after completion of this academic year.