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Promoting student case creation to enhance instruction of clinical reasoning skills: a pilot feasibility study

Authors Chandrasekar H, Gesundheit N, Nevins AB, Pompei P, Bruce J, Bereknyei Merrell S

Received 29 October 2017

Accepted for publication 31 January 2018

Published 12 April 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 249—257

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AMEP.S155481

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Maria Olenick

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder


Hamsika Chandrasekar,1 Neil Gesundheit,2 Andrew B Nevins,3 Peter Pompei,4 Janine Bruce,5 Sylvia Bereknyei Merrell6

1Department of Pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; 2Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA; 3Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA; 4Department of Medicine, Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA; 5Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA; 6Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

Background: It is a common educational practice for medical students to engage in case-based learning (CBL) exercises by working through clinical cases that have been developed by faculty. While such faculty-developed exercises have educational strengths, there are at least two major drawbacks to learning by this method: the number and diversity of cases is often limited; and students decrease their engagement with CBL cases as they grow accustomed to the teaching method. We sought to explore whether student case creation can address both of these limitations. We also compared student case creation to traditional clinical reasoning sessions in regard to tutorial group effectiveness, perceived gains in clinical reasoning, and quality of student–faculty interaction.
Methods: Ten first-year medical students participated in a feasibility study wherein they worked in small groups to develop their own patient case around a preassigned diagnosis. Faculty provided feedback on case quality afterwards. Students completed pre- and post-self-assessment surveys. Students and faculty also participated in separate focus groups to compare their case creation experience to traditional CBL sessions.
Results: Students reported high levels of team engagement and peer learning, as well as increased ownership over case content and understanding of clinical reasoning nuances. However, students also reported decreases in student–faculty interaction and the use of visual aids (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: The results of our feasibility study suggest that student-generated cases can be a valuable adjunct to traditional clinical reasoning instruction by increasing content ownership, encouraging student-directed learning, and providing opportunities to explore clinical nuances. However, these gains may reduce student–faculty interaction. Future studies may be able to identify an improved model of faculty participation, the ideal timing for incorporation of this method in a medical curriculum, and a more rigorous assessment of the impact of student case creation on the development of clinical reasoning skills.

Keywords: case-based learning, undergraduate medical education, student case creation

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