Unit 1: Medical Education - Past, Present, and Future

Return to Course Overview: Technology and Collaboration in Medical Education

Navigate to Unit 2: Learning Environments, Theories, and Activities

Unit 1 Goal

The goal of this unit is examine the state of medical education by looking at its influences, recent trends, and future directions.

Learning Objectives

  1. The participant will examine current trends in medical education.
  2. The participant will discuss several popular modalities in medical education.
  3. The participant will explain why technology and asynchronous activities should be incorporated into medical education.

Entry Slip

Follow this link and answer a couple of questions before beginning this unit.

Medical Education in 2020

Medical education is undergoing rapid change forcing medical educators to adapt and innovate their instruction. The United States Medical Licensing Examiners (USMLE) Step 1 Exam has taken over as the single most important component of a medical student's career path. As such students are forgoing their local curriculum and turning to "high yield" resources to prepare them for the exam.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in a 2019 survey of second year medical students found that 28.8% of students almost never attend class in person, an increase of 5.3% from 2017. Additionally, 96.8% of students surveyed in 2019 stated they rely on online content regularly, with 41.7% using the outside resources daily. Another study found that less than 1 in 5 students preparing for the Step 1 exam in 2014-2015 used educational materials from their medical schools to prepare for the exam, finding them only somewhat useful. In contrast, nearly all students (over 99%) used third-party Step 1 study resources including online question banks and lectures and supplemental textbooks (Burk-Rafel et al., p. S69).

In 2019, 89.2% of graduating medical students were satisfied with the quality of their education, down from 90.9% in 2015. Medical school is expensive and students seem to be growing dissatisfied by a local curricula they feel does not adequately prepare the for the Step 1 Exam.

Medical educators must accept that students rely on outside resources throughout medical school. Many of the commercial products are designed by instructional designers and subject matter experts to present the information in an easily digestible format meant to prepare the student for success on the exam, but are not meant for long-term knowledge retention. The AAMC found that in the 2017-2018 academic year, the AAMC found that 65% of United States medical schools were either planning or implementing curriculum change. An additional 19 percent had revised and implemented a new curriculum within the past three years (AAMC, 2019). As part of this revision process, many schools are reducing the pre-clinical phase of their curriculum from 2 years to 18 months, making the synchronous class time even more valuable. By incorporating asynchronous preparation activities into course and session design, educators eliminate the need to spend time introducing a concept, students can demonstrate learning by completing pre- and post-tests and more time can be spent building a deeper understanding of the material and/or getting hands on clinical experience.

Image Source: https://rievent.com/insights/blog/3-ways-technology-improves-continuing-medical-education-cme-outcomes

In the article "Using Technology to Meet the Challenges of Medical Education" Phyllis Guze describes "the educational goals of using technology in medical education include facilitating basic knowledge acquisition, improving decision making, enhancement of perceptual variation, improving skill coordination, practicing for rare or critical events, learning team training,and improving psychomotor skills. Different technologies can address these goals. The task of medical educators is to use these new technologies effectively to transform learning into a more collaborative, personalized, and empowering experience" (Guze, p.261). Throughout this course we will examine several guiding adult learning theories, explore ways to collaborate and use technological tools, and develop a blueprint to design asynchronous educational experiences.

Exit Ticket: Instructional Methods in Medical School

Take a few minutes to explore the AAMC Curriculum Inventory website and see how schools throughout the United States and Canada are teaching your future physicians.

What information from the AAMC website surprised you? Share your thoughts here.

References and Resources

Association of American Medical Colleges. 2019 Graduation Questionnaire. Retreived from https://www.aamc.org/system/files/2019-08/2019-gq-all-schools-summary-report.pdf

Assocation of American Medical Colleges. 2019 Medical School Year Two Questionnaire. Retreived from https://www.aamc.org/system/files/2020-04/2019%20Y2Q%20All%20Schools%20Summary%20Report.pdf

Association of American Medical Colleges. (2019). Curriculum Change in US Medical Schools: Implementation of Change 2017-2018. Retrieved from https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/curriculum-reports/interactive-data/curriculum-change-us-medical-schools.

Burk-Rafel, J., Santen, S. A., and Purkiss, J. (2017). Study Behaviors and USMLE Step 1 Performance: Implications of a Student Self-Directed Parallel Curriculum. Academic Medicine. Association of American Medical Colleges. 2017(92): S67-S74. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001916.

Guze, P. A. (2015). Using Technology to Meet the Challenges of Medical Education. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association. Vol. 126. pp. 260-270.