Educational simulation brings improved radiology acumen to medical students

An educational simulation portal integrated with clinical decision support (CDS) at point-of-order improves medical students’ test scores and should be considered for inclusion in undergraduate medical education curricula, according to results of a study recently published in the journal Academic Radiology.

Advancements in medical imaging science and information technology have made radiological procedures a central aspect of the continuum of care in modern medicine.

But the sophistication of radiology-based education tools and programs available to medical students has not progressed at the same pace, said Marc H. Willis, DO, and his colleagues from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

“Undergraduate medical education curricula typically are not reflective of the omnipresence of imaging in the modern clinical practice,” they wrote. “Traditional curricula have not kept pace with these rapid advancements in technology and do not fulfill the evolving educational needs of medical students.”

To fill this educational gap, Willis and his team developed an educational simulation portal using integrated CDS, creating a blended learning environment to help students learn about selecting appropriate imaging studies, following necessary safety measures and recognizing relevant healthcare costs. The researchers then gave 34 volunteer medical students at their institution access to the portal and assessed the program’s performance through qualitative survey results and pre- and post-implementation testing.

Their results showed that 85 percent of the medical students tested believed the portal should be included in the undergraduate medical education, with all students receiving significantly higher test scores following implementation of the portal.

“In an era of evidence-based medicine, continuous quality improvement, and patient safety, combining simulation training at the point-of-order with integrated CDS into medical student education provides an effective way to engage our future physicians before they establish their practice habits,” the authors concluded. “Expanding these efforts across the continuum of medical education is a logical next step to broaden the enduring impact, change behaviors, and more rapidly improve patient outcomes.”