Objectives Evidence based medicine (EBM) is the integration of clinical knowledge with evidence and patient values in medical practice.1 Evidence has shown blended learning models improve student attitudes towards EBM versus traditional didactic learning.2 The University of Buckingham Medical School is committed to improving student attitudes towards and engagement with EBM curriculum, so students appreciate the relevance of EBM in clinical practice. In 2018 the University held its first EBM conference when students in their first year of clinical practice were invited to submit educational prescriptions, where they presented a scenario from their clinical placements and demonstrated how they applied EBM in clinical decisions. Out of the 60 students invited there were 25 submissions with some students submitting in groups rather than individually. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of peer mentorship in improving medical student’s engagement with the EBM assignment.
Method In 2018, students were invited to submit abstracts based on a clinical question that arose during their placements. Student finalists were encouraged to be creative in designing a video and short presentation at the EBM conference, role play the process taken to research the best evidence for the clinical question, as well as emphasise the significance of EBM to patient care.
Feedback from students at the conference, the finalists were then asked to be peer mentors for their juniors. Their role included meeting with previous conference organizers to discuss challenges they faced with abstract submissions and making any recommendations for improvement. An online platform was developed and an online tool with prompts for the educational prescriptions was created. Subsequent to these interventions a comparison was made of the submission numbers between 2018 and 2019 conferences. Junior students were also given a questionnaire to obtain their perspectives of the peer mentorship
Results In 2019 there were 60 submissions compared to the 25 submissions in 2018. In addition to the increment; it was also noted that a smaller percentage of submissions were in groups for the 2019 conference-40% of submissions in 2018 were in groups compared to around 1% of submissions in 2019- suggesting that students were possibly more confident of the assignment. Twenty-five junior students completed the questionnaires distributed. 72% of the responded that the examples from the previous year helped them the most to structure their submission for this year; however, some students felt like they would have preferred to have more examples provided online. Over 70% of the students were satisfied with the support provided by the peer mentors
Conclusions The implementation of a peer guided mentoring in the medical school led to the greater engagement of students with the assignment. Although it was difficult to isolate what had the most influence on students’ submissions. 90% of the students preferred to have submitted online rather than via email or paper copy so therefore happy with our intervention. It appears what mattered most to students was the opportunity to view other medical students’ submissions and presentations. It was also highlighted that some would have preferred to have a formal talk on which the mentors could have given them tips and shared their experiences as students. These findings show providing students with an opportunity to learn from their peers is of great importance, perhaps this is because peers are able to present things in a relatable way
Sackett D, Rosenberg W, Gray J, Haynes R, Richardson W. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ. 1996;312(7023):71–72.
Ilic, D., Nordin, R., Glasziou, P., Tilson, J. and Villanueva, E. (2015). A randomised controlled trial of a blended learning education intervention for teaching evidence-based medicine. BMC Medical Education, 15(1).
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