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The Electroconvulsive Therapy and Anesthesia Exercise (ECTAE): The Creation of an Interdisciplinary Learning Activity for Medical Students

Li, Descartes MD; Hall, Stephen E. MD; Tong, Lowell D. MD; Rollins, Mark D. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3182801b22
Original Studies

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.

From the *Department of Psychiatry and †Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

Received for publication October 16, 2012; accepted November 27, 2012.

Reprints: Descartes Li, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, 401 Parnassus Ave, Room 272, San Francisco, CA 94143-0984 (e-mail:

This work is attributed to the Departments of Psychiatry, and Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

The authors have no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures to report.

Financial support for faculty time was provided by departmental funds from both the Departments of Psychiatry, and Anesthesia and Perioperative Care at the University of California at San Francisco.

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