Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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Mirror, mirror, on the wall ...

An online evidence based medicine exercise prompts reflection in third year medical students. Lewin LO et al. BMC Medical Education 2014;14:164

Reviewed by Janet Meller

What was the study question?
Will an online evidence based medicine exercise with a face-to-face debriefing session enhance the ability of third year medical students to improve their skills at self-evaluation and reflection?

How was the study done?
An online Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) exercise and Learning Profile design was developed by the authors.  This was provided to all third year medical students rotating through the pediatric clerkship in the form of an online survey which consisted of two tasks.  The first was an EBM evaluation with 12 multiple choice questions EBM tasks.  The second was a pediatric ADHD case which asked the student to decide about treatment.  After completing the survey, the students were provided with a Personal Learning Profile (PLP) which contained graphic responses to the survey and compared those to their peers in terms of their self-efficacy and skill.  This was followed by a one-hour group debriefing session including a presentation on reflection and a discussion of their performance and the group’s performance as a whole.  Students were then asked to complete an evaluation form on the exercise and utility of the debriefing session.

What were the results?
The students felt that the PLP allowed them to better evaluate themselves and their decisions and that the debriefing session clarified the purpose of the exercise and their individual results. Of interest, they found that students had a tendency to underestimate their EBM skills.  The graphic representations supported the thought that self-reflection is best fostered in a supportive environment with a trained facilitator.

What are the implications of the study?
This format was successful in introducing reflective practice in third year medical students.  The case is available to others online and other cases could be developed.


Editor’s note: The educational intervention described was well-received by the students and 2/3 of the students commented on ways that this exercise would promote them to do some thing differently in the future. Hopefully the authors will study this cohort of students to see if, indeed, the exercise positively changed future behavior (SLB).

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