Platform enables medical students to share learning

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Clinicians at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine have developed a web-based tool that enables third- and fourth-year medical students to electronically log their learning experiences and share them with their peers.

According to Alexander Sheng, MD, an emergency medicine physician at BMC and assistant professor of emergency medicine at BU School of Medicine, the tool enables medical students to take the time and effort to reflect on their learning experiences—especially in busy clinical environments such as the emergency department.

“This is a platform we’re using to help encourage and optimize that process for our learners without taking huge amounts of time away from their clinical work during their work days,” says Sheng. “No clinical environment has ever offered any structured approach to encouraging reflection and a shared learning community like we’ve built.

“It’s intended for multiple levels of faculty, residents and students to engage,” he adds. “Some experiences may not change what you do, but some experiences may.”

The platform, called Learning Moment, uses data captured as a research database to determine where learning experiences occur most within the emergency department setting.

The use of the tool has enabled research into how different types of medical students gain the most knowledge about their future medical roles.

For emergency medicine-bound students, patient rooms represented the most frequent location for student learning moments, followed by physician workstations, resuscitation rooms and other areas.

For students who don’t pursue emergency medicine roles, patient rooms are also the most frequent location for student learning moments, with a much smaller percentage taking place in other areas such as physician workstations.

“These findings raise the question: Are there inherent differences between the learning preferences of EM-bound students vs. non EM-bound students? Considering that aversion to bedside rounding is commonplace among EM residents, one could postulate that those who choose EM as their intended specialty may have an increased propensity to learn ‘on the spot,’ such as at the workstations where presentations of cases commonly occur,” states a pilot study of Learning Moment published online in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The authors note that “it would be valuable to conduct a similar study in EM resident populations to see if the results differ; such insight could potentially benefit graduate medical education training.”

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While Sheng—the study’s lead author—says Learning Moment was pilot tested with third- and fourth-year medical students in the ED, he contends that the tool can be adapted to other medical departments and institutions.

“A lot of healthcare-related fields are certainly amenable to this type of experiential learning,” Sheng says.

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