Implementation and evaluation of an undergraduate emergency medicine curriculum

A Celenza, G A Jelinek, I Jacobs, C Kruk, R Graydon, L Murray
Emergency Medicine 2001, 13 (1): 98-103

OBJECTIVE: To describe the implementation and evaluation of an undergraduate course in the first Australian academic emergency medicine unit.

METHODS: A descriptive study of a course involving fifth year medical students at the University of Western Australia was undertaken. Teaching included self-directed case problem solving, small group tutorials, practical-skills teaching, clinical attachments and information handouts. Evaluation involved questionnaire scores and written feedback regarding life-support skills, tutorial teaching, course materials, clinical attachments and the course in general. Some groups of students underwent pre-course and post-course examinations.

RESULTS: Subjective and objective testing showed that student knowledge significantly improved. Feedback was especially positive toward clinical attachments in emergency departments, practical skills tutorials and the case-based learning method. Students requested longer attachments to emergency departments, and more practical, case-based, interactive and bedside teaching. Problems encountered included inadequate time for teaching, vagueness about student roles and objectives, and dealing with death for the first time without adequate preparation.

CONCLUSION: Undergraduate emergency medicine education should become an essential part of Australian and international undergraduate medical education. Emergency medicine is enjoyable and eminently suitable for problem-based, interactive and integrated teaching and improves confidence, clinical experience in emergencies, practical skills and teamwork. Improvements include more problem-based teaching, more practical skills sessions and better definition of student roles. These are general principles that can be applied to other undergraduate courses and to designers of other emergency medicine courses, both undergraduate and postgraduate.

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