Is it possible to have an international site for medical revision? There is a diverse range of assessment methods in place in today’s medical marketplace, ranging from the familiar MCQ exam, to the OSCE format that may not be so familiar to some medical students in the US or in other parts of Western Europe and Asia.
Trying to cater for the 140 countries that use the site and our growing list of >1000 registered users can at times be difficult. We asked one of our contributing registrars to comment on the forms of assessment:
Its a very interesting question if a single site can provide enough different content to suit the needs of different medical students. I think the best approach is to remain diverse in your tutorial and assessment methods on the site, which is something that medicaleducator manages to do. Obviously there’s a number of domains which could be improved, and that’s the big challenge.
When asking a newly qualified doctor about their own experiences we got a slightly different answer:
I dont think it makes any difference what you do, as long as you have some practice in the assessment method- I mean if you’re doing an MCQ, then that’s fine, you should have had some MCQ practice, same goes for an OSCE, but the knowledge you get from sites like these about key important things, that you might not understand, really helps you to get an overall grasp of whats going on.
One of the qeaknesses of assessment methods is the opportunity to use exam technique to help students perform well in OSCEs. James Bateman, one of the key contributors to the site has his own view:
I do see exam technique as an important issue, but for a different reason to many doctors.
I’ve helped a large number of doctors (>20) sit complicated clinical examinations in tutorials of up to 3 doctors (for entry to specialist training). Its actually problems in techniques in fielding and answering questions that leads to the main problem, i.e. the doctors are being penalised for problems in the way that they answer questions.
Its a shame to see people not maximise their potential because of nerves. I do think that assessment methods used are robust (the evidence from the literature supports this), I do think that web based learning on the site will help people learn (as the meta-analysis by Cook DA et al in JAMA suggests).
So our reasons are as follows
- Evidence based medical knowledge is transferable across continents in terms of pathophysiology, clinical assessment investigation, and treatment approaches
- Almost all assessment by medical schools involve MCQ based assessments, a strong component of our approach. This can be useful practice, and any essay format or long answer question will still revolve around key medical facts.
- Clinical examination skills as taught by a video format can help in both clinical and written examinations. Our questions also highlight clinical connundrums based on different clinical findings
- A wide variety of delivery formats will help to provide students with the capacity to learn from multiple different domains
- Detailed clinical answers to MCQ and EMQ question format will help in medical written assessments and other viva situations by providing the students with key clinical facts.
Medical Educator hopes to publish some interviews with UK based and US based medical students in the coming weeks, to see how their needs differ. We already have some US contributors. If you’re a student, and you’re like to get invovled in this, or are interested why not email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Cook DA, Levinson AJ, Garside S, Dupras DM, Erwin PJ, Montori VM. Internet-based learning in the health professions: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2008;300(10):1181-1196 Full text here.