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Tuesday, September 04, 2018

What’s the Fuss about Medical Education-Some Preliminary Thoughts

As some of my readers know, my first job in academe was on the full time faculty of a medical school and since then I’ve always had joint appointments.   I’ve done some writing about the differences here and here.  Like law schools, medical schools face the challenge of turning lay people into professionals in a very short period of time.  Over the month, I will highlight some of the things they do that could work for us.  Notice throughout that medical education articles about teaching techniques are almost always accompanied by research about how they worked compared to alternatives.    In later posts, I will suggest how we could (and why we should) test our curricular innovations so that we can make better decisions about what works—and so that we can make it easier to share effective techniques within our own schools and beyond.   For now, though, it’s important to understand that medical school faculty start ahead of us on this because every medical school has its own office of medical education to support the faculty and , as a profession in itself, these educators produce vast amounts of easily available research studies on what works and what doesn’t.    Here are some examples from  Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Brown, and University of Illinois, but every medical school has one.  And if we could be more meta, here’s some research on their effectiveness. How big is this field of medical education- have a look at an overview of the conference schedule.

This focus on testing what works goes beyond medical schools into the other health professions as well.  So, for example, this article is by a professor of veterinary medicine looking at whether students learn neural anatomy better when they use expensive three-dimensional and digital teaching tools in addition to the traditional dissection and learning methods.  In recap, yes, although the students themselves don’t notice the difference.  The article cites about 50 other articles around the world looking at the same question—all very important when making the decision of where to invest limited resources.  Here’s an overview of the concept of evaluating educational effectiveness. 

Finally, for tonight, medical education has approached the challenge of teaching busy practitioners to be educators in ways that respect the time of volunteers yet maximize the learning experience for students. In particular, they’ve spent considerable time finding ways for students in the first year (or days) of medical school to learn in practice based settings.   This is years before they begin the process of clinical rotations or residencies.

 This article runs through four techniques that practitioners can use to turn what are essentially “shadowing” experiences into teaching.  And here’s the evaluation study. .

--to be continued…..

Posted by Jennifer Bard on September 4, 2018 at 12:07 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink


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