Emergency Medical Technician Training During Medical School: Benefits for the Hidden Curriculum

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Abstract

Problem

Medical schools are encouraged to introduce students to clinical experiences early, to integrate biomedical and clinical sciences, and to expose students to interprofessional health providers and teams. One important goal is for students to gain a better understanding of the patients they will care for in the future and how their social and behavioral characteristics may affect care delivery.

Approach

To promote early clinical exposure and biomedical integration, in 2012 the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville incorporated emergency medical technician (EMT) training into the curriculum. This report describes the program; outlines changes (made after year 1) to improve biomedical integration; and provides a brief analysis and categorization of comments from student reflections to determine whether particular themes, especially related to the hidden curriculum, appeared.

Outcomes

Medical students wrote frequently about EMT-related experiences: 29% of reflections in the charter year (1.2 per student) and 38% of reflections in the second year (1.5 per student) focused on EMT-related experiences. Reflections related to patient care, professionalism, systems-based practice, and communication/interpersonal skills. The frequency of themes in student reflections may provide insight into a medical program’s hidden curriculum. This information may serve to inform curricula that focus on biosocial elements such as professionalism and communication with the goal of enhancing future physicians’ tolerance, empathy, and patient-centeredness.

Next Steps

The authors plan to conduct further qualitative analysis of student reflections to iteratively revise curricula to address gaps both in learning and in the differences between the explicit curriculum and actual experiences.

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