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The impact of deliberate reflection with WISE-MD™ modules on surgical clerkship students’ critical thinking: a prospective, randomized controlled pilot study

Authors Hale JF, Terrien JM, Quirk M, Sullivan K, Cahan M

Received 24 February 2018

Accepted for publication 17 May 2018

Published 9 October 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 757—766


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Majumder

Janet Fraser Hale,1 Jill M Terrien,1 Mark Quirk,2 Kate Sullivan,2 Mitchell Cahan3

1Graduate School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; 2Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; 3Department of Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA

Purpose: Critical thinking underlies several Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)-defined core entrustable professional activities (EPAs). Critical-thinking ability affects health care quality and safety. Tested tools to teach, assess, improve, and nurture good critical-thinking skills are needed. This prospective randomized controlled pilot study evaluated the addition of deliberate reflection (DR), guidance with Web Initiative in Surgical Education (WISE-MD™) modules, to promote surgical clerks’ critical-thinking ability. The goal was to promote the application of reflective awareness principles to enhance learning outcomes and critical thinking about the module content.
Participants and methods: Surgical clerkship (SC) students were recruited from two different blocks and randomly assigned to a control or intervention group. The intervention group was asked to record responses using a DR guide as they viewed two selected WISE-MD™ modules while the control group was asked to view two modules recording free thought. We hypothesized that the intervention group would show a significantly greater pre- to postintervention increase in critical-thinking ability than students in the control group.
Results: Neither group showed a difference in pre- and posttest free-thought critical-thinking outcomes; however, the intervention group verbalized more thoughtful clinical reasoning during the intervention.
Conclusion: Despite an unsupported hypothesis, this study provides a forum for discussion in medical education. It took a sponsored tool in surgical education (WISE-MD™) and posed the toughest evaluation criteria of an educational intervention; does it affect the way we think? and not just what we learn, but how we learn it? The answer is significant and will require more resources before we arrive at a definitive answer.

Keywords: simulation, clinical reasoning, medical education strategies

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