Defining an anaesthetic curriculum for medical undergraduates. A Delphi study

Denise Rohan, Sinead Ahern, Ken Walsh
Medical Teacher 2009, 31 (1): e1-5

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Anaesthesia is commonly taught to medical students. The duration and content of such teaching varies however and no consensus exists as to what constitutes an optimal curriculum. Anaesthetists possess the necessary knowledge and skills and operate in clinical settings suitable to provide training for medical undergraduates, especially in areas where deficiencies have been identified. This Delphi study was directed towards developing a consensus on an optimal anaesthesia, intensive care and pain medicine curriculum for medical undergraduates.

METHODS: This Delphi survey consisted of three iterative rounds with feedback given at the start of each successive round in the form of the results of the previous round. The participants consisted of 27 consultant anaesthetists, chosen by the three Professors of anaesthesia in Ireland to be experts in undergraduate medical education.

RESULTS: Thirty one consultant anaesthetists were chosen to participate in the study. Two consultants declined to participate. Two consultants were omitted from the first round in error and were not included in the remainder of the study. The response rate to the first round was 100%. Two hundred and nine individual items were included in the second questionnaire. 67% consultants responded to the second questionnaire and 59% to the third questionnaire. 74 Items achieved consensus level on completion of the study.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated support amongst respondents for an expanded role for anaesthetists in teaching medical students. An expanded teaching role for anaesthetists would take advantage of the large number of anaesthetists in Irish teaching hospitals, their enthusiasm for teaching, the frequency of patient-consultant proximity and the likely value of their teaching to student learning outcomes. The consensus reached by this study does not recommend a comprehensive anaesthesia curriculum. Rather, more emphasis has been placed on anaesthetists teaching a broader range of knowledge, skills and attitudes relevant to every newly qualified doctor.

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