Objectives: Demonstration of the effectiveness for medical student teaching of the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)–anesthesia exercise (ECTAE). The ECTAE is a self-directed, interdisciplinary (psychiatry and anesthesia) learning exercise. Students are taught the assessment of mood and cognition using structured interviewing methods (psychiatry), basic airway and pharmacologic management (anesthesia), and informed consent and interdisciplinary communication (both). There are online pre-exercise and postexercise assessments.
Methods: Third-year medical students reviewed educational reference materials, participated in ECT clinical encounters with both psychiatry and anesthesia, and debriefed after completion of the interdisciplinary exercise. The impact of the exercise was evaluated through online pre- and postexercise assessments. Quantitative and qualitative results for 3 student cohorts (2007 through 2010) were analyzed.
Results: Thirty-eight students participated the study over 3 years. Mean scores for 21 true-false questions increased from 14.3 to 17.5 (n = 30) with P < 0.0001. Similarly, mean scores for 11 multiple choice questions increased from 6.8 to 8.9 (n = 22) with P < 0.0001. Thirty of 31 students who completed the program evaluation reported greater comfort level discussing and recommending ECT after participation in ECTAE.
Conclusions: The ECTAE is an effective learning activity for medical students, which incorporates cross-disciplinary learning objectives through self-directed exercises, online assessments, and actual clinical experience of ECT. It improves student knowledge of both psychiatry and anesthesia learning objectives, as well as increasing comfort about ECT. Further research could determine if this activity is easily transportable to other academic settings.