Advances in Health Sciences Education

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Abstract

The feasibility of implicitly assessing medical student burnout was explored, using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP), to measure longitudinal student burnout over the first two years of medical school and directly comparing it with an existing explicit measure of burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory; MBI). Three successive cohorts of medical students completed both implicit and explicit measures of burnout at several time points during their first two years of medical school. Both assessments were conducted via the internet within a one-week period during the first week of medical school, the end of the first year of medical school, and the end of the second year, though not all cohorts were able to complete the assessments at all time points. Mixed linear models were used to compare the two measures directly, as well as to evaluate changes over time in each measure separately. Minimal correspondence was observed between the implicit and explicit measures of burnout on a within-subject basis. However, when analyzed separately, all subscales of both measures detected significant change over time in the direction of greater levels of burnout, particularly during the first year of medical school. These results provide preliminary evidence the IRAP is able to assess implicit attitudes related to burnout among medical students, though additional research is needed. The IRAP detected consistent improvements in positive implicit attitudes toward medical training during students’ second year of medical school, which was not detected by the MBI. Possible implications of these findings are discussed.

Posted: January 13, 2022, 12:00 am

Abstract

The importance of advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion for all members of the academic medical community has gained recent attention. Academic medical organizations have attempted to increase broader representation while seeking structural reforms consistent with the goal of enhancing equity and reducing disproportionality. However, efforts remain constrained while minority groups continue to experience discrimination. In this study, the authors sought to identify and understand the discursive effects of discrimination policies within medical education. The authors assembled an archive of 22 texts consisting of publicly available discrimination and harassment policy documents in 13 Canadian medical schools that were active as of November 2019. Each text was analysed to identify themes, rhetorical strategies, problematization, and power relations. Policies described truth statements that appear to idealize equity, yet there were discourses related to professionalism and neutrality that were in tension with these ideals. There was also tension between organizations’ framing of a shared responsibility for addressing discrimination and individual responsibility on complainants. Lastly, there were also competing discourses on promoting freedom from discrimination and the concept of academic freedom. Overall, findings reveal several areas of tension that shape how discrimination is addressed in policy versus practice. Existing discourses regarding self-protection and academic freedom suggest equity cannot be advanced through policy discourse alone and more substantive structural transformation may be necessary. Existing approaches may be inadequate to address discrimination unless academic medical organizations interrogate the source of these discursive tensions and consider asymmetries of power.

Posted: January 13, 2022, 12:00 am

Abstract

Critical reflection supports enactment of the social roles of care, like collaboration and advocacy. We require evidence that links critical teaching approaches to future critically reflective practice. We thus asked: does a theory-informed approach to teaching critical reflection influence what learners talk about (i.e. topics of discussion) and how they talk (i.e. whether they talk in critically reflective ways) during subsequent learning experiences? Pre-clinical students (n = 75) were randomized into control and intervention conditions (8 groups each, of up to 5 interprofessional students). Participants completed an online Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) module, followed by either: a SDoH discussion (control) or critically reflective dialogue (intervention). Participants then experienced a common learning session (homecare curriculum and debrief) as outcome assessment, and another similar session one-week later. Blinded coders coded transcripts for what (topics) was said and how (critically reflective or not). We constructed Bayesian regression models for the probability of meaning units (unique utterances) being coded as particular what codes and as critically reflective or not (how). Groups exposed to the intervention were more likely, in a subsequent learning experience, to talk in a critically reflective manner (how) (0.096 [0.04, 0.15]) about similar content (no meaningful differences in what was said). This difference waned at one-week follow up. We showed experimentally that a particular critical pedagogical approach can make learners’ subsequent talk, ways of seeing, more critically reflective even when talking about similar topics. This study offers the field important new options for studying historically challenging-to-evaluate impacts and supports theoretical assertions about the potential of critical pedagogies.

Posted: January 1, 2022, 12:00 am

Abstract

The nature of healthcare means doctors must continually calibrate the quality of their work within constantly changing standards of practice. As trainees move into working as fully qualified professionals, they can struggle to know how well they are practising in the absence of formal oversight. They therefore need to build their evaluative judgement: their capability to interpret cues and messages from the clinical environment, allowing them to judge quality of practice. This paper explores how Australian general practice (GP) trainees develop their evaluative judgement. We interviewed 16 GPs, who had recently completed certification requirements, asking them how they managed complex learning challenges across their training trajectory. A thematic analysis was sensitised by conceptualisations of evaluative judgement and feedback for future practice. Findings are reported via three themes: sources of performance relevant information; sense-making about progress within complex learning challenges; and changing practice as evaluative judgement develops. Trainees actively sought to understand what quality practice looked like within complex and ambiguous circumstances but often found it difficult to calibrate their performance. While reflective practice was key to developing evaluative judgment, feedback conversations could provide significant opportunities for trainees and supervisors to co-construct meaning. A ‘feedback community’ was available for frequent instances where supervisors were absent or not regarded as entirely credible, although feedback conversations in themselves did not necessarily assist trainees to develop evaluative judgement. There is room for a more active role for supervisors in assisting trainees to consider how to independently make sense of learning cues.

Posted: December 2, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

The main purpose of the study was to examine whether health professions students in Taiwan who study in different programmes experience similar patient autonomy-related professionalism dilemmas caused by disconnections between school and clinical culture. To investigate this issue, we draw specifically on situated learning theory and its cultural concept to examine their professionalism dilemma narratives that were collected through interviews. Of the 79 interviewed students, nearly half of them experienced patient autonomy dilemmas caused by conflicts between school and clinical culture, which have significant negative impacts on their learning and emotional wellbeing. Four major types of patient autonomy-related dilemmas emerge from the data. It was also found that when school culture and clinical culture clash, the latter has a greater influence on students. Thus, the study argues that Taiwanese students’ frequent encounters with patient-autonomy dilemmas highlight the challenges faced by health professions students in transferring knowledge between school and clinical cultures, and clinical culture has a more powerful influence on their behaviour and clinical decision making. This phenomenon should be taken into account when organizing health professions education.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Assessing competence is a tremendous challenge in medical education. There are two contrasting approaches in competence assessment: an analytic approach that aims to precisely measure observable constituents and facets of competence and a holistic approach that focuses on a comprehensive assessment of competences in complex real situations reflecting actual performance. We would like to contribute to the existing discourse about medical competence and its assessment by proposing an approach that can provide orientation for the development of competence-based assessment concepts in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. The approach follows Kane's framework of an “argument-based approach” to validity and is based on insights into task complexity, testing and learning theories as well as the importance of the learning environment. It describes a continuum from analytic to holistic approaches to assess the constituents and facets of competence to performance. We conclude that the complexity of a task should determine the selection of the assessment and suggest to use this approach to reorganize and adapt competence assessment.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Optimizing teacher motivation in distributed learning environments is paramount to ensure high-quality education, as medical education is increasingly becoming the responsibility of a larger variety of healthcare contexts. This study aims to explore teaching-related basic need satisfaction, e.g. teachers’ feelings of autonomy, competence and relatedness in teaching, in different healthcare contexts and to provide insight into its relation to contextual factors. We distributed a digital survey among healthcare professionals in university hospitals (UH), district teaching hospitals (DTH), and primary care (PC). We used the Teaching-related Basic Need Satisfaction scale, based on the Self-Determination theory, to measure teachers’ basic needs satisfaction in teaching. We studied relations between basic need satisfaction and perceived presence of contextual factors associated with teacher motivation drawn from the literature. Input from 1407 healthcare professionals was analyzed. PC healthcare professionals felt most autonomous, UH healthcare professionals felt most competent, and DTH healthcare professionals felt most related. Regardless of work context, teachers involved in educational design and who perceived more appreciation and developmental opportunities for teaching reported higher feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in teaching, as did teachers who indicated that teaching was important at their job application. Perceived facilitators for teaching were associated with feeling more autonomous and related. These results can be utilized in a variety of healthcare contexts for improving teaching-related basic need satisfaction. Recommendations for practice include involving different healthcare professionals in educational development and coordination, forming communities of teachers across healthcare contexts, and addressing healthcare professionals’ intentions to be involved in education during job interviews.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

In both clinical and health professions education research, rich pictures, or participant-generated drawings of complex phenomena, are gaining recognition as a useful method for exploring multifaceted and emotional topics in medicine. For instance, two recent studies used rich pictures to augment semi-structured interviews exploring trainees’, health care professionals’ (HCPs), and parents’ experiences of difficult conversations in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)—an environment in which communication is often challenging, anxiety-provoking, and emotionally distressing. In both studies, participants were invited to draw a picture depicting how they experienced a difficult conversation in this setting. As part of the interview process, participants were asked to both describe how they engaged with rich pictures, and to share their perceptions about the affordances and limitations of this research method. Here, their perspectives are reported and the possibilities of using rich pictures to inform pedagogical innovations in health professions education and research are considered.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Assessment practices have been increasingly informed by a range of philosophical positions. While generally beneficial, the addition of options can lead to misalignment in the philosophical assumptions associated with different features of assessment (e.g., the nature of constructs and competence, ways of assessing, validation approaches). Such incompatibility can threaten the quality and defensibility of researchers’ claims, especially when left implicit. We investigated how authors state and use their philosophical positions when designing and reporting on performance-based assessments (PBA) of intrinsic roles, as well as the (in)compatibility of assumptions across assessment features. Using a representative sample of studies examining PBA of intrinsic roles, we used qualitative content analysis to extract data on how authors enacted their philosophical positions across three key assessment features: (1) construct conceptualizations, (2) assessment activities, and (3) validation methods. We also examined patterns in philosophical positioning across features and studies. In reviewing 32 papers from established peer-reviewed journals, we found (a) authors rarely reported their philosophical positions, meaning underlying assumptions could only be inferred; (b) authors approached features of assessment in variable ways that could be informed by or associated with different philosophical assumptions; (c) we experienced uncertainty in determining (in)compatibility of philosophical assumptions across features. Authors’ philosophical positions were often vague or absent in the selected contemporary assessment literature. Leaving such details implicit may lead to misinterpretation by knowledge users wishing to implement, build on, or evaluate the work. As such, assessing claims, quality and defensibility, may increasingly depend more on who is interpreting, rather than what is being interpreted.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Although the principles behind assessment for and as learning are well-established, there can be a struggle when reforming traditional assessment of learning to a program which encompasses assessment for and as learning. When introducing and reporting reforms, tensions in faculty may arise because of differing beliefs about the relationship between assessment and learning and the rules for the validity of assessments. Traditional systems of assessment of learning privilege objective, structured quantification of learners’ performances, and are done to the students. Newer systems of assessment promote assessment for learning, emphasise subjectivity, collate data from multiple sources, emphasise narrative-rich feedback to promote learner agency, and are done with the students. This contrast has implications for implementation and evaluative research. Research of assessment which is done to students typically asks, “what works”, whereas assessment that is done with the students focuses on more complex questions such as “what works, for whom, in which context, and why?” We applied such a critical realist perspective drawing on the interplay between structure and agency, and a systems approach to explore what theory says about introducing programmatic assessment in the context of pre-existing traditional approaches. Using a reflective technique, the internal conversation, we developed four factors that can assist educators considering major change to assessment practice in their own contexts. These include enabling positive learner agency and engagement; establishing argument-based validity frameworks; designing purposeful and eclectic evidence-based assessment tasks; and developing a shared narrative that promotes reflexivity in appreciating the complex relationships between assessment and learning.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Clinical reasoning is the thought process that guides practice. Although a plethora of clinical reasoning studies in healthcare professionals exists, the majority appear to originate from Western cultures. A scoping review was undertaken to examine clinical reasoning related research across Asian cultures. PubMed, SciVerse Scopus, Web of Science and Airiti Library databases were searched. Inclusion criteria included full-text articles published in Asian countries (2007 to 2019). Search terms included clinical reasoning, thinking process, differential diagnosis, decision making, problem-based learning, critical thinking, healthcare profession, institution, medical students and nursing students. After applying exclusion criteria, n = 240 were included in the review. The number of publications increased in 2012 (from 5%, n = 13 in 2011 to 9%, n = 22) with a steady increase onwards to 12% (n = 29) in 2016. South Korea published the most articles (19%, n = 46) followed by Iran (17%, n = 41). Nurse Education Today published 11% of the articles (n = 26), followed by BMC Medical Education (5%, n = 13). Nursing and Medical students account for the largest population groups studied. Analysis of the articles resulted in seven themes: Evaluation of existing courses (30%, n = 73) being the most frequently identified theme. Only seven comparative articles showed cultural implications, but none provided direct evidence of the impact of culture on clinical reasoning. We illuminate the potential necessity of further research in clinical reasoning, specifically with a focus on how clinical reasoning is affected by national culture. A better understanding of current clinical reasoning research in Asian cultures may assist curricula developers in establishing a culturally appropriate learning environment.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Cognitive Load Theory has emerged as an important approach to improving instruction in the health professions workplace, including patient handovers. At the same time, there is growing recognition that emotion influences learning through numerous cognitive processes including motivation, attention, working memory, and long-term memory. This study explores how emotion influences the cognitive load experienced by trainees performing patient handovers. From January to March 2019, 693 (38.7%) of 1807 residents and fellows from a 24-hospital health system in New York city completed a survey after performing a handover. Participants rated their emotional state and cognitive load. The survey included questions about features of the learner, task, and instructional environment. The authors used factor analysis to identify the core dimensions of emotion. Regression analyses explored the relationship between the emotion factors and cognitive load types. Two emotion dimensions were identified representing invigoration and tranquility. In regression analyses, higher levels of invigoration, tranquility, and their interaction were independently associated with lower intrinsic load and extraneous load. The interaction of invigoration and tranquility predicted lower germane load. The addition of the emotion variables to multivariate models including other predictors of cognitive load types significantly increased the amount of variance explained. The study provides a model for measuring emotions in workplace learning. Because emotion appears to have a significant influence on cognitive load types, instructional designers should consider strategies that help trainees regulate emotion in order to reduce cognitive load and improve learning and performance.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

In this editorial the Editor considers the roles and representations of patients in health professional education and their implications for educational scholarship in this field. She also considers the implications of patient presence and engagement for the social contract and the ways it is being placed under stress and strain.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Studies primarily involving single health professions programs suggest that holistic review in admissions can increase underrepresented minority (URM) representation among admitted students. However, data showing little improvement in the overall proportion of URMs in many health professions, despite widespread use of holistic review, suggest that relatively few programs using holistic review admit substantial proportions of underrepresented minorities. Therefore, more research is needed to understand factors that facilitate holistic review practices that successfully promote diverse student enrollment. The literature suggests that a supportive organizational culture is necessary for holistic review to be effective; yet, the influence of culture on admissions has not been directly studied. This study employs a qualitative, multiple case study approach to explore the influence of a culture that values diversity and inclusion (‘diversity culture’) on holistic review practices in two physician assistant educational programs that met criteria consistent with a proposed conceptual framework linking diversity culture to holistic admissions associated with high URM student enrollment (relative to other similar programs). Data from multiple sources were collected at each program during the 2018–2019 admissions cycle, and a coding manual derived from the conceptual framework facilitated directed content analysis and comparison of program similarities and differences. Consistent with the conceptual framework, diversity culture appeared to be a strong driver of holistic admissions practices that support enrolling diverse classes of students. Additional insights emerged that may serve as propositions for further testing and include the finding that URM faculty ‘champions for diversity’ appeared to strongly influence the admissions process.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

This study examined conscientiousness and the perceived educational environment as independent and interactive predictors of medical students’ performance within Biggs’ theoretical model of learning. Conscientiousness, the perceived educational environment, and learning approaches were assessed at the beginning of the third year in 268 medical students at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Performance was examined at the end of the third year via a computer-based assessment (CBA) and the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Path analysis was used to test the proposed model, whereby conscientiousness and the perceived educational environment predicted performance directly and indirectly via students’ learning approaches. A second model included interaction effects. The proposed model provided the best fit and explained 45% of the variance in CBA performance, and 23% of the variance in OSCE performance. Conscientiousness positively predicted CBA performance directly (β = 0.19, p < 0.001) and indirectly via a deep learning approach (β = 0.05, p = 0.012). The perceived educational environment positively predicted CBA performance indirectly only (β = 0.02, p = 0.011). Neither conscientiousness nor the perceived educational environment predicted OSCE performance. Model 2 had acceptable, but less optimal fit. In this model, there was a significant cross-over interaction effect (β = 0.16, p < 0.01): conscientiousness positively predicted OSCE performance when perceptions of the educational environment were the most positive, but negatively predicted performance when perceptions were the least positive. The findings suggest that both conscientiousness and perceptions of the educational environment predict CBA performance. Research should further examine interactions between personality traits and the medical school environment to inform strategies aimed at improving OSCE performance.

Posted: December 1, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

The hidden curriculum has been investigated as a powerful force on medical student learning and ongoing physician professional development. Previous studies have largely focused on medical students’ experiences as ‘receivers’ of the hidden curriculum. This study examined how residents and newly graduated physicians conceived of their roles as active participants in the hidden curriculum. An interpretative phenomenological study was employed using individual, semi-structured interviews with residents and newly graduated physicians (n = 5) to examine their roles in perpetuating the hidden curriculum. A thematic analysis was conducted using a reflexive approach. Findings include insight into how residents and newly graduated physicians: (a) navigate the hidden curriculum for their own professional development; (b) intervene in others’ enactment of the hidden curriculum; and (c) seek to repair the hidden curriculum for the next generation through their teaching. In light of our findings, we argue that: (a) more research is needed to understand how early career physicians navigate their engagement with the hidden curriculum; (b) students and educators be supported to consider how their agency to impact the hidden curriculum is influenced by the sociocultural context; and (c) residents and early career physicians are poised to powerfully impact the hidden curriculum through the learning environments they create.

Posted: November 25, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice (IPECP) is a field of study suggested to improve team functioning and patient safety. However, even interprofessional teams are susceptible to group pressures which may inhibit speaking up (positive deviance). Obedience is one group pressure that can inhibit positive deviance leading to negative patient outcomes. To examine the influence of obedience to authority in an interprofessional setting, an experimental simulated clinical scenario was conducted with Respiratory Therapy (RT) (n = 40) and Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) (n = 20) students. In an airway management scenario, it was necessary for students to challenge an authority, a senior anesthesiologist, to prevent patient harm. In a 2 × 2 design cognitive load and an interventional writing task designed to increase positive deviance were tested. The effect of individual characteristics, including Moral Foundations, and displacement of responsibility were also examined. There was a significant effect for profession and cognitive load: RT students demonstrated lower levels of positive deviance in the low cognitive load scenario than students in other conditions. The writing task did not have a significant effect on RT or ACP students’ behaviour. The influence of Moral Foundations differed from expectations, In Group Loyalty was selected as a negative predictor of positive deviance while Respect for Authority was not. Displacement of responsibility was influential for some participants thought not for all. Other individual variables were identified for further investigation. Observational analysis of the simulation videos was conducted to obtain further insight into student behaviour in a compliance scenario. Individual differences, including experience, should be considered when providing education and training for positive deviance. Simulation provides an ideal setting to use compliance scenarios to train for positive deviance and for experimentation to study interprofessional team behaviour.

Posted: November 22, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

As curricular reforms are implemented, there is often urgency among scholars to swiftly evaluate curricular outcomes and establish whether desired impacts have been realized. Consequently, many evaluative studies focus on summative program outcomes without accompanying evaluations of implementation. This runs the risk of Type III errors, whereby outcome evaluations rest on unverified assumptions about the appropriate implementation of prescribed curricular activities. Such errors challenge the usefulness of the evaluative studies, casting doubt on accumulated knowledge about curricular innovations, and posing problems for educational systems working to mobilize scarce resources. Unfortunately, however, there is long-standing inattention to the evaluation of implementation in health professions education (HPE). To address this, we propose an accessible framework that provides substantive guidance for evaluative research on implementation of curricular innovations. The Prescribed-Intended-Enacted-Sustainable (PIES) framework that is articulated in this paper, introduces new concepts to HPE—with a view to facilitating more nuanced examination of the evolution of curricula as they are implemented. Critically, the framework is theoretically grounded, integrating evaluation and implementation science as well as education theory. It outlines when, how, and why evaluators need to direct attention to curricular implementation, providing guidance on how programs can map out meaningful evaluative research agendas. Ultimately, this work is intended to support evaluators and educators, seeking to design evaluation studies that provide more faithful, useful representations of the intricacies of curricular change implementation.

Posted: November 15, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

Reflection is a complex concept in medical education research. No consensus exists on what reflection exactly entails; thus far, cross-comparing empirical findings has not resulted in definite evidence on how to foster reflection. The concept is as slippery as soap. This leaves the research field with the question, ‘how can research approach the conceptual indeterminacy of reflection to produce knowledge?’. The authors conducted a critical narrative umbrella review of research on reflection in medical education. Forty-seven review studies on reflection research from 2000 onwards were reviewed. The authors used the foundational literature on reflection from Dewey and Schön as an analytical lens to identify and critically juxtapose common approaches in reflection research that tackle the conceptual complexity. Research on reflection must deal with the paradox that every conceptualization of reflection is either too sharp or too broad because it is entrenched in practice. The key to conceptualizing reflection lies in its use and purpose, which can be provided by in situ research of reflective practices.

Posted: November 12, 2021, 12:00 am

Abstract

When physicians do not estimate their diagnostic accuracy correctly, i.e. show inaccurate diagnostic calibration, diagnostic errors or overtesting can occur. A previous study showed that physicians’ diagnostic calibration for easy cases improved, after they received feedback on their previous diagnoses. We investigated whether diagnostic calibration would also improve from this feedback when cases were more difficult. Sixty-nine general-practice residents were randomly assigned to one of two conditions. In the feedback condition, they diagnosed a case, rated their confidence in their diagnosis, their invested mental effort, and case complexity, and then were shown the correct diagnosis (feedback). This was repeated for 12 cases. Participants in the control condition did the same without receiving feedback. We analysed calibration in terms of (1) absolute accuracy (absolute difference between diagnostic accuracy and confidence), and (2) bias (confidence minus diagnostic calibration). There was no difference between the conditions in the measurements of calibration (absolute accuracy, p = .204; bias, p = .176). Post-hoc analyses showed that on correctly diagnosed cases (on which participants are either accurate or underconfident), calibration in the feedback condition was less accurate than in the control condition, p = .013. This study shows that feedback on diagnostic performance did not improve physicians’ calibration for more difficult cases. One explanation could be that participants were confronted with their mistakes and thereafter lowered their confidence ratings even if cases were diagnosed correctly. This shows how difficult it is to improve diagnostic calibration, which is important to prevent diagnostic errors or maltreatment.

Posted: November 5, 2021, 12:00 am