EMERGENCY MEDICINE OBSERVERSHIPS FOR PRE-CLERKSHIP STUDENTS

Why Every University Should Have One

It has long been recognized the value of mentorship in guiding and developing young professional careers.  During my time as Director of Emergency Medicine Undergradutae Education at the University of Toronto (2005-2010), establishing apportunities for observerships in Emergency Departments had become a priority.  Up till this point, some students with lots of initiative, lots of chutzpah, and lots of luck arranged shadowing experiences on their own.  But all this was coming to an end, as almost all the ED's in Toronto were shutting their to student observers.  Below is the description and the evaluation of the program I developed.

This study was published in 2009 in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Penciner, R. Emergency medicine preclerkship observerships: evaluation of a structured experience. CJEM 2009;11(3):235-239

Introduction

Medical students are expected to make residency and career decisions early in their undergraduate medical education.  In medical school curricula there is limited exposure to Emergency Medicine (EM) in the pre-clerkship years.  Most medical students’ first exposure to EM is during their clerkship rotations, which is often too late for decisions regarding residency programs1,2. Currently, some students through informal networking have arranged opportunities to observe emergency physicians in the emergency department (ED).  While this has been very successful for most of these individuals, there have been some concerns raised by ED’s about the presence of these observers.  

The purpose of this study was to develop a formalized EM observership program for pre-clerks and to survey the students following their participation.

Methods


Study setting and population

A structured observership program was developed and implemented at the University of Toronto Medical School in February 2007.  All 1st and 2nd year students (n = 425) were eligible to participate on a voluntary basis.  Nine (9) ED teaching sites were recruited with each site recruiting interested physician preceptors. Students contacted the site of their choice directly to arrange the observership.  A convenience sample was used for the period February 26 to November 4, 2007.

Study protocol

The observership consisted of two 4-hour shifts with 1 preceptor at 1 site.  Specific expectations and a code of conduct for the students were outlined on the program website (Table 2).  Students were not involved in any aspects of patient care.  

Measurements

Following the observership experience, students were requested to complete a 13 item questionnaire.  Students were sent a request by email with a link to an online survey developed using SurveyMonkey.com (available: www.surveymonkey.com). Students were asked to indicate how closely they agreed with the statements in the questionnaire using a 5 point Likert scale.  Students were invited to include additional comments.   

Following the observership experience, students were requested to complete a 13 item questionnaire.  Students were sent a request by email with a link to an online survey developed using SurveyMonkey.com (available: www.surveymonkey.com). Students were asked to indicate how closely they agreed with the statements in the questionnaire using a 5 point Likert scale.  Students were invited to include additional comments.   

 

 

 

Literature Cited

Frank JR, Penciner R, Upadhye S, Nuth J, Lee C. State of the nation:  A profile of Canadian EM clerkships 2007.  Submitted for publication.

Wald D, Manthey DE, Kruus L et al.  The state of the clerkship: A survey of emergency medicine clerkship directors.  Acad Emerg Med. 2007 Jul; 14(7):629-34.

Acknowledgments

The author wishes to thank Nancy Medeiros for administrative support for the observership program.

 

Results

 Conclusions

Conclusions

Conclusions

Structured Emergency Medicine observerships are viewed by medical students to be worthwhile.  These observerships can change attitudes and interest towards Emergency Medicine and have the potential to impact positively on students’ career choices.