To determine whether fourth-year medical students can learn the basic analytic, evaluative, and psychomotor skills needed to initially manage a critically ill patient.
Student learning was evaluated using a performance examination, the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Students were randomly assigned to one of two clinical scenarios before the elective. After the elective, students completed the other scenario, using a crossover design.
Five surgical intensive care units in a tertiary care university teaching hospital.
Forty fourth-year medical students enrolled in the critical care medicine (CCM) elective.
All students evaluated a live “simulated critically ill” patient, requested physiologic data from a nurse, ordered laboratory tests, received data in real time, and intervened as they deemed appropriate.
Student performance of specific behavioral objectives was evaluated at five stations. They were expected to a) assess airway, breathing, and circulation in appropriate sequence; b) prepare a manikin for intubation, obtain an acceptable airway on the manikin, demonstrate bag-mouth ventilation, and perform acceptable laryngoscopy and intubation; c) provide appropriate mechanical ventilator settings; d) manage hypotension; and e) request and interpret pulmonary artery data and initiate appropriate therapy. OSCEs were videotaped and reviewed by two faculty members masked to time of examination. A checklist of key behaviors was used to evaluate performance. The primary outcome measure was the difference in examination score before and after the rotation. Secondary outcomes included the difference in scores at each rotation. The mean preelective score was 57.0% ± 8.3% compared with 85.9% ± 7.4% (p< .0001) after the elective. Significant improvement was demonstrated at each station except station I.
Fourth-year medical students without a CCM elective do not possess the basic cognitive and psychomotor skills necessary to initially manage critically ill patients. After an appropriate 1-month CCM elective, students' thinking and application skills required to initially manage critically ill patients improved markedly, as demonstrated by an OSCE using a live simulated “patient” and manikin.
From the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Drs. Rogers, Jacob, Thomas, Willenkin, and Pinsky), and the Department of Psychology In Education, University of Pittsburgh (Dr. Harwell), Pittsburgh, PA.
Address requests for reprints to: Paul L. Rogers, MD, Critical Care Service (124-U), VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, University Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15240.