Meet Dominique Defibrillator.
Although Dominique isn’t a real IU School of Medicine Class of 2020 student, she represents a composite of aggregated feedback from actual Class of 2020 students.
After finishing the second year of medical school, Dominique, along with her Class of 2020 colleagues, reflected on her experiences by taking the Strategic Student Survey (S3). Dominique and her classmates identified both areas of improvement and achievement at IU School of Medicine.
Full Quantitative Student Response Results
Academic Support Services
Dominique felt satisfied about her access to an academic advisor, academic counseling and tutoring. She wrote, “My lead advisor is always very responsive and helpful” and “I can’t imagine going through medical school without my lead advisor.” Dominique went on to explain, “Peer tutors are fantastic at their jobs; very thankful” and “I feel like I can trust my advisor to solve problems.” However, one of Dominique’s friends on another campus said, “students at regional campuses were often unable to find tutors through local administration.”
Response by Abigail Klemsz, MD, PhD, Assistant Dean for Academic Advising
From the beginning of their medical training, Class of 2020 students have had the opportunity to connect with their lead advisor and develop personalized academic support plans. Because some campuses had difficulty connecting students with tutors, the Mentoring and Advising Program (MAP) worked with the campus leadership and the lead advisors to develop a statewide system of tutoring. Currently, all tutors are assigned by the learning strategist, Kristin Richey, who oversees the formal training of the tutors. This new support system has provided appropriate tutoring resources to students on all nine campuses.
Academic Program, Teaching and Pedagogy
Dominique was happy with the quality of didactic lectures, assessments and the Phase 1 program overall. Most of Dominique’s dissatisfaction was with problem-based learning (PBL) and team-based learning (TBL) small group activities. Dominique explained, “Unfortunately, the non-didactic sessions have been ineffective due to poor organization–although there are good intentions behind the activities, they are not executed well as the visiting physicians are not always given the appropriate materials to effectively facilitate the session.” Dominique also wrote, “In addition, I think non-didactic sessions should focus on practicing already presented material rather than presenting new material.”
Response by Maureen Harrington, PhD, Associate Dean for Foundational Sciences
Students frequently ask me why content is delivered through small group sessions. While a number of students lament the shift from lecture to small groups, this format enhances retention of material by placing content in a clinical context, meets LCME education standards and emphasizes important team-based skills that will be used in clinical practice. Some students are also concerned with the comparability of small group facilitators. Moving forward, our statewide course director meetings will have “train the trainer sessions” administered by education specialists dedicated to best practices for the development and delivery of small group materials. Because these meetings are attended by all of the statewide course directors, we hope these meetings will improve communication between courses by providing an opportunity for faculty to share best practices in medical education content delivery.
Quality of Educational Experiences Across Disciplines
Dominique was especially satisfied with pathology, pharmacology, gross anatomy and behavioral health education. She wrote, “The pathology and pharmacology lectures we had were excellent.” She also praised many of her professors, “[My professor] is wonderful at teaching cardiovascular and pulmonary physiology,” and “pathology is the best taught course and my professor is amazing!” However, Dominique suggested improvement to biostatistics in Phase 1, explaining, “Biostatistics seemed to be a highly-tested concept on Step 1, and was poorly taught.”
Response from Maureen Harrington, PhD, Associate Dean for Foundational Sciences
and Jennelle Richardson, PhD, Assistant Dean of Medical Student Education, Foundational Sciences (Phase 1)
The Phase 1 curricular team is working to make a number of improvements to the Phase 1 curriculum in coordination with student feedback. For example, biostatistics and epidemiology will continue to be a focus in Transitions 1 and will be intentionally reinforced in the Phase 2 curriculum. The Host Defense Course Management Team is addressing concerns that immunology teaching seemed rushed. Pharmacology will continue to be integrated in the Understanding Diseases of Systems (UDOS) courses, and we are working on ways to better unify concepts across courses. Finally, we will continue to improve lectures by reviewing and assessing content and delivery mechanisms.
Communication Between Students and Faculty Administration
Dominique explained, “Communication with our local faculty and staff was excellent for the most part; however, communication with IU School of Medicine statewide administration was embarrassingly poor.” Dominique added, “It’s hard to know who in the bureaucracy to email when I have a problem.” Dominique concluded with a positive note, “The newsletter has been a step in the right direction; love the deans emails clearing up miscommunications and acknowledging our frustrations” and “I would really like to see more of that same concise, transparent and timely communication from the administration.”
Response by: Emily Walvoord, MD, Associate Dean for Student Affairs
Communication in any large and complex organization is a challenge, but we absolutely need to do a better job. The MD Student Newsletter has been a step in the right direction, and we have heard that students appreciate fewer emails and more concise information. Newsletter open rates are up nearly 45 percent from when it started in January 2018, and often more than 80 percent of students open the newsletter. We are also focusing on improving communications with students at all campuses. This will include improved communication between the statewide course directors, campus leaders and students, as well as more statewide visits from Medical Student Education leaders. We plan to introduce a web-based portal to help students know who to contact for questions and timely responses. Our Medical Student Education and Student Affairs team is here for students, no matter what campus they attend. Finally, we apologize for the very late release of the Transitions 2 schedule and will work even harder to have plans finalized for new courses much further in advance.