Role of Service Learning in Medical Students’ Acquisition of EPAs




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PURPOSE Service learning is designed to provide opportunities to engage in experiential learning which is task and problem specific, improves clinical skills, and facilitates experiencing the benefits of altruistic behavior. Students self reported ratings of various service activities shed light on the activities value in learning clinical skills and professionalism, as reflected in EPAs 1, 6, 7, and 9. The model of learning that is applied here has its origin in the work of John Dewey (1938) and more recent elaboration by Kolb and Boyatzis (2000) who addresses issues of emotional intelligence in professional competencies. METHODS Osteopathic medical students perform service during the first two years as one of the required elements of their ‘doctoring’ course. Service learning meets various learning objectives, including exercising clinical skills for EPAs 1, 6, 7, and 9. Students’ self-report data from their service learning activities is captured electronically. Learning objectives for each service activity are rated by student using a Likert scale. Each semester, approximately 1425 service learning reports are available for preliminary analysis and pilot testing. A total of 7 semesters of data will be available for analysis. For significant differences among the various types of services exercising EPAs 1, 6, 7 and 9, two-sided t-tests using z scores and the Bonferroni correction are applied. RESULTS Initial results show students overall agreement that homeless services and school and sports physicals meet the learning objectives associated with EPA1, again homeless services for EPA6, indigent clinics and sporting events for EPA7, health and safety education and health fairs and screening the highest for EPA9, CONCLUSIONS Despite skewedness in the self-reported data, discernable differences exist between types of activities meeting various learning objectives and furthermore ratings ran in expected directions. Students’ comments offer insights into their professional values and empathy.