Advances in Health Sciences Education

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Abstract

Safe and effective healthcare requires that new knowledge or skills, once learned, are incorporated into professional practice. However, this process is not always straightforward. Learning takes place in complex contexts, requiring practitioners to overcome various motivational, systemic, emotional, and social barriers to the application of knowledge. This paper explores the mechanisms through which individuals translate knowledge into action to provide insight into why disconnects between knowledge and action can arise. As a critical review, the aim was to draw on key literature from multiple fields to analyse and synthesize existing schools of thought and lay a strong conceptual foundation on which knowledge to action gaps might be considered. We iteratively consulted clinicians and experts in various fields to guide literature searches focused on theoretical perspectives that could inform educational and research efforts around knowledge-to-action gaps. Key theoretical perspectives on motivation address when and how individuals decide to take action. Literatures from cognitive science address how clinicians and learners self-regulate to (sometimes) overcome barriers to action. Sociocultural theories examine the ways in which action might be prevented by social norms that conflict with what the individual knows and believes, potentially also giving rise to counter-normative action. No single perspective will entirely explain how health professionals and learners implement knowledge in practice. As a result, the authors offer multiple lenses through which to view the problem, and then propose how each of these lenses might better guide educational and research efforts to untangle this challenging but important issue.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate two online instructional design features, namely adaptation to learner prior knowledge and use of questions to enhance interactivity in online portrayals of physician–patient encounters, in the context of instructing surgical specialists to deliver perioperative tobacco interventions. An online learning module on perioperative tobacco control was developed, in formats incorporating permutations of adaptive/non-adaptive and high/low interactivity (i.e., 2 × 2 factorial design). Participants (a national sample of US anesthesiology residents) were randomly assigned to module format. Primary outcomes included tobacco knowledge, time to complete the module, and self-efficacy in delivering tobacco interventions. One hundred fourteen residents completed the module, which required a median of 60 min (interquartile range 49, 138). The difference in post-module tobacco knowledge score was similar for adaptive and non-adaptive formats [mean difference 0.3 of 10 possible (95% CI − 0.3, 1.0), p = 0.25] but time was shorter for the adaptive format [− 7 min (95% CI − 14, 0), p = 0.01] and knowledge efficiency (knowledge score divided by time) was higher [0.08 units (95% 0.03, 0.14), p = 0.004]. The level of interactivity had no significant effect on self-efficacy [− 0.1 on a 5-point scale (95% CI − 0.3, 0.1), p = 0.50] in delivering tobacco interventions (both outcomes using 5-point scales). Adapting online instruction to learners’ prior knowledge appears to improve the efficiency of learning; adaptation should be implemented when feasible. Adding features that encourage learner interaction in an online course does not necessarily improve learning outcomes.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

While University students increasingly participate in work-integrated learning (WIL), their dignity is often violated during WIL. The current literature is limited in so far as it typically focuses on student perspectives within healthcare contexts and does not use the concept of ‘dignity’. Instead, this study explored student and supervisor perspectives on student dignity during WIL across healthcare and non-healthcare disciplines. Research questions included: What are: (1) types of student dignity experiences and patterns by groups; (2) factors contributing to experiences; (3) consequences of experiences? Sixty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted using narrative interviewing techniques with 30 supervisors and 46 students from healthcare (medicine, nursing and counselling) and non-healthcare (business, law and education) disciplines. Data were analyzed using framework analysis. Nine common narrative types were identified within 344 stories: verbal abuse, right for learning opportunities, care, inclusion, reasonable expectations, right for appropriate feedback, equality, trust, and right to be informed. Factors contributing to dignity experiences and consequences were often at the individual level (e.g. student/supervisor characteristics). We found some salient differences in perceptions of experiences between students and supervisors, but few differences between healthcare and non-healthcare disciplines. This study extends WIL research based on student perspectives in healthcare, and provides practice and further research guidance to enhance student dignity during WIL.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am
Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Disabled people are underrepresented within healthcare professions, although their participation has potential benefits for them personally, and for broader society. Disabled peoples’ participation in healthcare professions is limited by assumptions about disability. Little research explores how healthcare professions can be organized to support disabled peoples’ employment. Within a critical realist paradigm influenced by grounded theory, this study used interviews to explore the experiences of 56 disabled healthcare clinicians and students, and advance a conceptual taxonomy of disability experience within healthcare professions. Participants describe their experiences of disability in the healthcare professional context in terms of characteristics and dimensions of disability—how characteristics interact with factors within healthcare training and practice environments. We profile two particularly salient dimensions of the disability experience: visibility and onset of disability. These are developed to describe complexity and specificity of the experiences of individuals negotiating the healthcare context. Among participants there is extensive heterogeneity related to the experience of disability in healthcare professional contexts. Despite some having similar disability characteristics, no two individuals experience the same combination of characteristics and dimensions of disability. Given the complexity of experiences for disabled healthcare professionals/students, a taxonomy for conceptualizing this experience is presented. Readers are encouraged to consider the taxonomy through which they might conceptualize individual, embodied, and socially embedded experiences of disabled healthcare professionals and students. Stakeholders involved in healthcare professions and education should consider this shift in perspective, with a view to increasing access of disabled people to health professional practice.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

The well-structured medical communication models that are typically described in textbooks are relevant to practice, but the actual messy interactional realities of consultations are often a far cry away from them. As a result, medical trainees frequently encounter difficulties when applying communication skills acquired during training to medical practice. This paper reflects on how clinical communication research and courses can incorporate the growing need for context-bound communication skills training. This paper illustrates how concepts from the research field of language and social interaction can facilitate the description and analysis of communication in clinical encounters, drawing on a real-life example from an increasingly common clinical scenario: a consultation in the emergency department involving a patient who does not speak the same language as the clinician. The proposed way of looking at clinical communication can enrich clinical skills training as it provides a tool to study, analyze, visualize and discuss communication from a different perspective that simultaneously accounts for interactional and clinical reasoning aspects of medical consultations.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Effective health workforce preparation is critical to the health of those who stand to benefit from its services. Emerging dietitians can provide important insights on an evolving workforce that is well-placed to advance future global health. This study aimed to explore a national sample of dietetics graduates’ experiences of, and challenges faced in, dietetics workforce preparation and preparedness in Australia. An interpretive description methodology guided this study whereby researchers interpreted the meanings that participants attributed to their experiences. Twenty dietitians (graduated within the last 2 years) were purposively sampled from across Australia and detailed insights were obtained through semi-structured interviews. A multi-analyst approach employing thematic and template analysis, enabled five themes to be identified across the data set. These included: (1) being held back; (2) chasing the prize; (3) valuing real learning; (4) easing the transition; and (5) encountering influencers. While graduates appreciated their preparation, they were not empowered or equipped to embrace opportunities in diverse and emerging areas of dietetics practice. Graduates were challenged by the competitive landscape of securing obvious job opportunities and by a lack of support in transitioning into the workforce. Practice exposures and encounters with influential dietitians were highly valued. Research on role-emerging dietetics placements along with enhanced support mechanisms for novice dietitians is urgently required to ensure appropriate alignment between future dietetics preparation and practice. Obtaining insights into health professional graduates’ experiences of their education can be used to ensure that emerging health workforces are relevant and responsive to future market needs.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Interprofessional teamwork between healthcare professionals is integral to the delivery of safe high-quality patient care in all settings. Recent reforms of medical education curricula incorporate specific educational opportunities that aim to foster successful interprofessional collaboration and teamwork. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of curriculum reform on medical students’ perceptions of their interactions and team-working with nurses. We gathered data from 12 semi-structured individual narrative interviews with a purposive sample of male (n = 6) and female (n = 6) medical students from fourth year (n = 6 following an integrated curriculum) and fifth year (n = 6 following a traditional curriculum). Data were subject to narrative analysis which was undertaken using NVivo software. Overall, there was no notable difference in the responses of the participants on the traditional and integrated curricula about their interactions and team work with nurses. However, the introduction of an integrated medical curriculum was viewed positively but a lack of interprofessional education with nursing students, removal of a nursing placement and shorter clinical placements were perceived as lost opportunities for the development of educationally beneficial relationships. The participants reported that nurses play a number of roles in clinical practice which underpin patient safety including being medical educators who provide a valuable source of support for medical students. The participants highlighted different factors that could hinder or foster effective working relationships such as a lack of understanding of nurses’ different professional roles and mutual respect. Medical education needs to provide students with more structured opportunities to work with and learn from nurses in clinical practice. Further research could explore how to foster positive relationships between medical students and nurses.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Medical educators are tasked with decisions on trainee progression and credentialing for independent clinical practice, which requires robust evidence from workplace-based assessment. It is unclear how the current promotion of workplace-based assessment as a pedagogical approach to promote learning has impacted this use of assessments for decision-making; meeting both these purposes may present unforeseen challenges. In this study we explored how supervisors make decisions on trainee progress in practice. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 19 supervisors of postgraduate anesthesia training across Australia and New Zealand and undertook thematic analysis of the transcripts. Supervisors looked beyond the formal assessment portfolio when making performance decisions. They instead used assessment ‘shadow systems’ based on their own observation and confidential judgements from trusted colleagues. Supervisors’ decision making involved expert judgement of the perceived salient aspects of performance and the standard to be attained while making allowances for the opportunities and constraints of the local learning environment. Supervisors found making progress decisions an emotional burden. When faced with difficult decisions, they found ways to share the responsibility and balance the potential consequences for the trainee with the need to protect their patients. Viewed through the lens of community of practice theory, the development of assessment ‘shadow systems’ indicates a lack of alignment between local workplace assessment practices and the prescribed programmatic assessment approach to high-stakes progress decisions. Avenues for improvement include cooperative development of formal assessment processes to better meet local needs or incorporating the information in ‘shadow systems’ into formal assessment processes.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

In postgraduate medical education, required competencies are described in detail in existing competency frameworks. This study proposes an alternative strategy for competency-based medical education design, which is supported by change management theories. We demonstrate the value of allowing room for re-invention and creative adaptation of innovations. This new strategy was explored for the development of a new generic competency framework for a harmonised European curriculum in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The generic competency framework was developed through action research. Data were collected by four European stakeholder groups (patients, nurses, midwives and hospital boards), using a variety of methods. Subsequently, the data were analysed further in consensus discussions with European specialists and trainees in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. These discussions ensured that the framework provides guidance, is specialty-specific, and that implementation in all European countries could be feasible. The presented generic competency framework identifies four domains: ‘Patient-centred care’, ‘Teamwork’, ‘System-based practice’ and ‘Personal and professional development’. For each of these four domains, guiding competencies were defined. The new generic competency framework is supported by European specialists and trainees in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, as well as by their European stakeholders. According to change management theories, it seems vital to allow room for re-invention and creative adaptation of the competency framework by medical professionals. Therefore, the generic competency framework offers guidance rather than prescription. The presented strategy for competency framework development offers leads for implementation of competency-based medical education as well as for development of innovations in postgraduate medical education in general.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

While multiple theories exist to explain the diagnostic process, there are few available assessments that reliably determine diagnostic competence in trainees. Most methods focus on aspects of the process of diagnostic reasoning, such as the relation between case features and diagnostic hypotheses. Inevitably, detailed elucidation of aspects of the process requires substantial time per case and limits the number of cases that can be examined given a limited testing time. Shifting assessment to the outcome of diagnostic reasoning, accuracy of the diagnosis, may serve as a reliable measure of diagnostic competence and would allow increased sampling across cases. The present study is a retrospective analysis of 7 large studies, conducted by 3 research teams, that all used a series of brief written cases to examine the outcome of diagnostic reasoning—the diagnosis. The studies involved over 600 clinicians ranging from final year medical students to practicing emergency physicians. For 4 studies with usable reliability data, reliability for a 2 h test ranged from .63 to .94. On average speeded tests were more reliable (.85 vs. .73).To achieve a reliability of .75 required an average test time of 1.11 h for speeded tests and 1.99 for unspeeded tests. The measure was shown to be positively correlated with both written knowledge tests and measures of problem solving derived from OSCE performance tests. This retrospective analysis provides evidence to support the implementation of outcome-based assessments of clinical reasoning.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Evidenced by leading journals in academic medicine, health professions education has taken up the call to advance equitable healthcare. One pressing area where gaps and inequities are apparent is transgender (trans) people’s access to gender-affirming medicine such as hormones and surgeries. Reasons for the dire state of care include education gaps. While specific content knowledge has been identified as lacking in medical school curricula, less research has focused on the complex social practices required of clinicians and educators working in gender-affirming medicine, and how these skills are learned through practice. In order to inform health professions education in this key area of need, we conducted a study to better understand the social practices, and the learning that occurs therein, of gender-affirming medicine. We identified the work processes of 22 clinicians, clinician-educators, trans patients, and clinical care administrators with attention to how policies and protocols influenced practice, learning, and teaching. The results of our study elucidate: (1) that practicing of gender-affirming medicine is strictly dictated by standardized assessment protocols, which serve as a form of curriculum; and (2) how health professionals learn and teach health advocacy as a form of resistance to protocols identified as creating inequities. These findings suggest an opportunity to view protocols—and their inherent limitations—more deliberately as teaching and learning tools, specifically for learning advocacy.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Feedback can improve students’ learning and performance on clinical placements, yet students are often dissatisfied with the process. Attempts to improve feedback frequently focus on faculty development programs without addressing learners’ capabilities to engage with feedback. For feedback to be effective, students need to understand its processes and to translate this into practice. Developing student feedback literacy may enhance feedback engagement and, therefore, learning outcomes. This qualitative interview study aimed to problematise student feedback literacy in the healthcare setting, from the learner’s perspective. Before commencing placements, 105 healthcare students at an Australian teaching hospital participated in a feedback literacy program. After their placements, 27 students engaged in semi-structured interviews to explore their feedback experiences. Informed by workplace learning theory, interview transcripts were analysed using the framework method of qualitative analysis. Students reported reframing feedback as a process they could initiate and engage in, rather one they were subjected to. When they took an intentional stance, students noted that feedback conversations generated plans for improvement which they were enacting. However, students had to work hard against orthodox feedback expectations and habits in healthcare. They privileged intraprofessional supervisor feedback over interprofessional practitioners, patients, or peers. Findings suggest that student engagement with feedback can be augmented with focussed retraining. However, further research examining the structural and cultural influences on students’ capacity to be active in workplace feedback is warranted.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Mentoring is suffering from a shortage of trained mentors which compromise the efficacy of novice mentoring or mentoring between a senior clinician and a junior clinician. E-mentoring is proposed as a means of supplementing this dominant form of mentoring in medicine by providing accessible, timely and longitudinal support for mentees. However, with little is known about e-mentoring nor its role in a blended mentoring approach, a systematic scoping review is proposed to evaluate these gaps in understanding in order to better understand e-mentoring and assess the viability of employing e-mentoring practice to support novice mentoring. Using Arksey and O’Malley’s (Int J Soc Res Methodol 8(1):19–32, 2005) approach, 5 reviewers carried out independent literature reviews of e-mentoring as an adjuvant to novice mentoring in PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, ERIC, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Google Scholar, Scopus, GreyLit, OpenGrey, and Web of Science databases. Braun and Clarke’s (Qual Res Psychol 3(2):77–101, 2006) thematic analysis approach was used to thematically analyse accounts of e-mentoring across different settings. 6557 abstracts were identified, 109 full text articles were reviewed, and 18 articles were included and thematically analysed. The themes identified include definitions, role, stages, processes, platforms, evaluation, and relationships in e-mentoring. The themes identified provide a clinically relevant definition of e-mentoring, and in highlighting the similarities in the phases of novice and e-mentoring reaffirms the validity of a blended approach as a means of addressing shortfalls in mentoring in medicine.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

When educators are developing an effective and workable assessment program in graduate medical education by employing action research and stakeholder mapping to identify core competency domains and directives, the multi-stage process can be guided and informed by utilizing the story of designing, building and sea-testing sailing ships as a metaphor. However, the current challenge of physician burnout demands additional attention when formulating medical training frameworks, assessment guidelines and mentoring programs in 2020. The possibility of job-crafting is raised for consideration by designers of core competency frameworks in the health professions.

Posted: March 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

There has been increased attention to and emphasis on competency-based medical education and the transformation from highly supervised medical students towards independent, entrustable physicians. We explored how program directors (PDs) justify decisions about whether they would trust finishing Post Graduate Year 1 (PGY1) residents to care for the PD or a loved one. Using an end of year survey with validity evidence, we assessed PDs’ responses (Yes, No, Not Sure) and written comments about this entrustment decision for USUHS medical students from graduating classes of 2013–2015 (PGY1). We performed a qualitative inductive content analysis to identify themes in how PDs justified their decisions as well as descriptive statistics and a contingency table analysis to examine associations between trust decisions and election to membership in Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), or conversely, referral to the Student Promotions Committee (SPC) for remediation. Qualitative analyses revealed five themes related to this trust decision about medical residents: personal, interpersonal, knowledge, competence, and developmental. Neither AOA status, nor SPC referral status was significantly associated with the trust measure, overall, but positive trust decisions were significantly higher among those elected to AOA than in those who were not. Positive trust decisions were significantly associated with AOA status but negative trust decisions were not significantly associated with referral to the SPC. This study offers insights into what attributes may underpin trust decisions by PDs. Our findings suggest that PDs’ frequent use of personal and interpersonal characteristics to justify trust decisions contrasts with the use of clinical and knowledge based assessments during undergraduate medical education (UME), and emphasize the importance of critical intrinsic abilities.

Posted: February 12, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Teaching clinical reasoning in emergency medicine requires educators to foster diagnostic accuracy and judicious decision-making amidst chaotic ambient factors including clinician fatigue, high cognitive load, and diverse patient expectations. The current study applies the early work of Jurgen Habermas and his knowledge-constitutive interests as a lens to explore an educational approach where physician-educators were asked to make their expert reasoning visible to emergency medicine trainees, to more deliberately make visible and accessible the context-specific thinking that emergency physicians routinely use. An action research methodology was used. The ‘making thinking visible’ teaching approach was introduced to five emergency medicine educators working in large public hospital emergency departments. Participants were asked to trial this teaching method and document its impact on student learning over two reporting cycles. Based on written reports of trialing the teaching approach, participants identified a need to change from: (1) introducing thinking structures to cultivating enquiry; and, (2) providing explanations based on cognitive thinking routines towards encouraging the learner to see the relevance of the clinical context. Educators described how they developed a more diagnostic and reflexive approach to learners, recognized the need to cultivate independent thinking, and valued the opportunity to reflect on their usual teaching. Teaching clinical reasoning using the ‘making thinking visible’ approach prompted educators to decrease the emphasis on providing technical information to assisting learners to understand the purposes and meanings behind clinical reasoning in emergency medicine. The knowledge-constitutive interests work of Jurgen Habermas was found to provide a robust framework supporting this emancipatory teaching approach.

Posted: January 31, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

Undergraduate clinical assessors make expert, multifaceted judgements of consultation skills in concert with medical school OSCE grading rubrics. Assessors are not cognitive machines: their judgements are made in the light of prior experience and social interactions with students. It is important to understand assessors’ working conceptualisations of consultation skills and whether they could be used to develop assessment tools for undergraduate assessment. To identify any working conceptualisations that assessors use while assessing undergraduate medical students’ consultation skills and develop assessment tools based on assessors’ working conceptualisations and natural language for undergraduate consultation skills. In semi-structured interviews, 12 experienced assessors from a UK medical school populated a blank assessment scale with personally meaningful descriptors while describing how they made judgements of students’ consultation skills (at exit standard). A two-step iterative thematic framework analysis was performed drawing on constructionism and interactionism. Five domains were found within working conceptualisations of consultation skills: Application of knowledge; Manner with patients; Getting it done; Safety; and Overall impression. Three mechanisms of judgement about student behaviour were identified: observations, inferences and feelings. Assessment tools drawing on participants’ conceptualisations and natural language were generated, including ‘grade descriptors’ for common conceptualisations in each domain by mechanism of judgement and matched to grading rubrics of Fail, Borderline, Pass, Very good. Utilising working conceptualisations to develop assessment tools is feasible and potentially useful. Work is needed to test impact on assessment quality.

Posted: January 29, 2020, 12:00 am

Abstract

We conducted a study to compare medical school experiences, values, career paths, and career satisfaction of under-represented in medicine (URiM) and non-URiM physicians approximately 15 years after medical school, guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior and the concept of stereotype threat. The sample consisted of four graduating classes, 1996–1999, of Harvard Medical School, 20% of whom were URiM. URiM respondents came from families of lower educational attainment and graduated with more debt. As students, they reported a greater experience of stereotype threat and, and at graduation they showed a tendency to place a higher value on avoiding a career that places them under constant pressure. Concerning their current status, URiM respondents expressed a lower level of satisfaction with their career progress. Multivariable analyses indicated that across the entire sample, URiM status was not a significant predictor of employment in academic medicine, but that being in academic medicine was predicted by mentors’ encouragement for a research career, greater intention to pursue research, and a lower value on having a financially rewarding career. Lower career satisfaction was predicted by one’s status as URiM, employment in academic medicine, greater involvement in research, and a greater value on avoiding constant pressure. The data suggest that negative student experiences in medical school, combined with the lack of mentor encouragement and financial pressures may discourage URiM medical students from pursuing academic careers, and that pressures for productivity and working in academic medicine may degrade the satisfaction derived by physicians in general.

Posted: January 25, 2020, 12:00 am