Teaching Clinical Skills During The COVID-19 Pandemic: What The Students Want

Frison-Roche, Sadhbh, HArtnett, Caoimhe, O'Brien, Christina, Kirwan, Jeff, Clear, Caitriona and Higgins, Mary (2021) Teaching Clinical Skills During The COVID-19 Pandemic: What The Students Want.


Background: As COVID-19 impacts medical education worldwide, a lack of patient contact and clinical
exposure creates significant concern for medical students. During a three-week medical education elective
in January/February 2021, five final year clinical medical students developed a project aiming to address
these concerns, supported by two academic staff. Our aim was to provide pre-clinical medical students
studying Obstetrics and Gynaecology with learning materials that would prepare them for entry into
clinical settings in the future.

Summary of Work: Using the principles of design-based thinking, collaborative brainstorming techniques
by the final year students identified core problems likely affecting pre-clinical medical students within our
university. Following identification and discussion of these problems, a survey was developed and
administered to pre-clinical medical students. Using their feedback, we aimed to develop and provide
material that would be beneficial to their progress in the absence of formal clinical placement.

Summary of Results: Core problems included lack of patient exposure, stress working at home, and lack of
regular feedback. A 14-item questionnaire was developed and tested among a small group. Once
administered, 47 students responded (17%). In terms of learning how to take a history, sample history
vignettes were considered most beneficial to learning by 87.4% of respondents. Written summaries were
also highly valued by 68.9% of students. A majority (75% of respondents) agreed that summaries on clinical
examinations are beneficial to their learning, and 43.5% students cited these as their preferred resource to
build confidence in this area. Based on these results, we compiled a guidebook for history taking and
clinical examination in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which contains exam-focussed sample history
vignettes. We also recorded sample history taking and presentations as podcasts to be distributed to

Discussion and Conclusions: Using feedback from pre-clinical students on their experience of learning in
Obstetrics and Gynaecology thus far, we compiled a set of learning materials tailored towards their needs
in order to help them feel more confident and prepared for future clinical placement.

Take-home Messages: Ask the students what they need!

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