Survey uncovers what medical students need and how best to connect with them
Helping medical students to succeed in their studies is a key factor in getting their attention, a recent ADG survey* has found.
The survey, conducted in February 2021, asked students in their final two years of study about the tensions they face and what they need from the healthcare industry.
The pressure to perform is always on, so they’re looking for reliable – and concise – information sources to help them succeed.
“I am always studying; it is never ending. I used to have lectures and then in the evening study on my own. Now in the hospital, we do full days, have lectures and then revise in the evening,” says one survey participant.
Another concern is lack of clarity about what to focus their studies on.
Lecture notes and textbooks don’t always provide the required guidance, so medical students are seeking sources that help them to focus their studies.
“In the first two years, a lot of the information is provided through the lectures, so it is more clear what you need to study and what to focus on [to pass exams]. Now it is much less clear…different lecturers will put different emphasis [on different things], lecture slides are outdated, and goals are very broad,” says one medical student.
So what can the healthcare industry do to assist medical students and create a connection with these healthcare professionals early in their careers?
1. Help medical students zero in on what’s relevant
“It is hard to know what you need to know.”
Currently, students rely on access to older students, who may pass on their notes and share hard drives. They also practice exam questions to help them zero in on relevant topics.
A key route to connecting with medical students is to offer a bank of exam-like questions to help them overcome the lack of clarity on what to study.
2. Provide access to educational platforms
“I often use Osmosis to help give me an overview or just a refresh for something I studied in my previous years.”
It’s easy for medical students to drown in the details. Resources that provide clarity are welcomed. Currently, these include short, animations outlining key clinical concepts and conditions, which are housed on educational platforms such as Osmosis and Online MedEd.
Such platforms are paid for by some, but not all, universities, so there’s an opportunity for industry to step in and offer access to educational platforms.
3. Improve study efficiency with high-yield information
“There is too much information. Finding what is useful, condensed, reliable and Australian… is gold.”
There is an overwhelming amount of information available, so medical students crave resources that help them to study efficiently. Currently, students use international resources such as Amboss or Up-to-Date. Local sources such as AusDoc’s How to Treat series are welcomed but there’s a need for more concise, local information tailored specifically for students.
4. Offer relevant, Australian-based resources
“I wish there was more Australian–produced summary material in a concise revision format.”
International resources such as the BMJ, Amboss or Up-to-Date don’t always meet Australian needs. Local knowledge banks such as the Therapeutic Guidelines are invaluable to medical students, if they can gain access via their university. However, medical students are crying out for more dedicated Australian–based information, organised per topic for easy access.
5. Help medical students translate book-smarts into patient care
“There is a lot of theory, but it is difficult to translate into practice.”
Medical students are academically gifted, but they feel under pressure to perform when they’re in front of a patient. The shift in emphasis from science to clinical work takes medical students out of their comfort zone, so tools that help them to translate theory into practice and to “think like a doctor” are welcomed. They are seeking a learning space that offers real-life case studies, tips to improve patient interactions, quizzes about symptoms, and on-the-spot diagnosis challenges.
*Reference: ADG Project Pathway 1, February 2021