In May, we signed a cooperation agreement with the Medical Student Council (CEEM, Spain) to promote the project Practicum Universities, and we now have the first results of the review of 20 Internal Medicine clinical cases that we commissioned to a small group of students. In short, the feedback is very positive. Lucía Escabias, the vice president of Territorial Organization of the CEEM, appreciated the structure of the cases and rated the final summary of relevant data as very positive. “I think,” she says, “that any idea that comes up after reading the case becomes clear with this points summary.”
the comments refer to the clear and simple drafting of the cases, their structure, and the validity and relevance of the content
For Laura Martínez, the outgoing CEEM president, “medical education requires substantial changes, and with this project, we begin to move forward.” During her tenure, she and three other Council volunteers (Lucía Escabias, mentioned above, Kevin Zoilo, and Juan Aguilar) reviewed 20 clinical cases of the application Practicum Script clinical reasoning training simulator for medical students. Their comments included the difficulty of the cases, the level of complexity for students in the last 2 years of medical school, and the usefulness and benefit of the content for future clinical practice, specifically for improving clinical thinking skills.
According to Martínez, “the Council considers necessary the participation in projects like this, which allows us to have access to platforms that break with the traditional teaching/learning model.” The collaborative work started 5 months ago during the Conference of Medical Deans when the CEEM presented the pilot program Practicum Universities, which is driven toward students in the last years [of medical school] rotating in internal medicine. The proposal consists of the implementation of Practicum Script to ensure the effectiveness of the model in improving the students’ higher cognitive abilities.
According to Dr. Eduardo Pleguezuelos, the project coordinator and academic secretary of the Practicum Foundation, “the training experience will occur using a bank of 20 cases, created by an editorial team in Imperial College London, dealing with decision making in dilemmatic contexts.” Through an interactive tutoring system, the students will make decisions regarding diagnoses, therapies, or complementary tests, which will help them become more autonomous. Depending on the results, continues Dr. Pleguezuelos, “the potential integration of Practicum Script into the teaching curriculum in medical schools could be considered.”
Learning by doing
“We promote active learning, offering students the possibility of facing authentic or real-life tasks, which have meaning and value for them,” says Dr. Eduardo Hornos, president of the Practicum Institute. In this sense, Escabias considers that “the cases are very interesting in detecting issues in which we lag behind and encourage us to improve our knowledge about them.” On the other hand, Kevin Zoilo (also a CEEM member) “choked” a bit on the cases of complementary tests, but in his opinion, “they are complete, and I have found them satisfactory and interesting, which leads me to think that this is a great learning tool.”
In general, the other comments refer to the clear and simple drafting of the cases (in English), their structure, and the validity and relevance of the content. Escabias mentions that she tried to steer her mind away from the MIR (test to access the training of medical specialists in Spain) to analyze the cases with the mind of a sixth-year medical student: “It is a bit complicated because I have been in intense preparation for the MIR for 3 months, but I think that this also helped me look at it with more perspective, pointing out to what cost me more to study.”
In the opinion of Laura Martínez, Lucía Escabias, Kevin Zoilo, and Juan Aguilar, the impact will be positive among the students. “Practicum Script is an approach to future clinical reality, and this should be appreciated,” they agree. It allows, in some way, to assimilate uncertainty as an inherent characteristic of medicine, and it does so by integrating critical thinking into training in a self-regulated learning format with immediate feedback.