From library to discharge: a managing care student project.Fam Med. 2004 Jan; 36 Suppl:S93-7.FM
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
The Patient Care Project (PCP) was a central component of the Undergraduate Medical Education for the 21st Century (UME-21) grant project at the University of Nebraska. With the primary goal of improving students' critical thinking skills, the PCP was directed more toward an understanding of managing care than the business aspects of managed care and emphasized written communication skills, clinical hypothesis testing, and exploring ways to solve medical and ethical questions.
All 239 students graduating in 2000 and 2001 were required to analyze the medical care received by one of their hospitalized patients. Using a criterion-based evaluation tool, students' written critiques were assessed in five specific areas, all of which required critical thinking skills. Students also received an overall grade for the project. The UME-21 Graduation Survey was used to assess changes in attitudes and behavior. Students graduating in 1999, prior to the institution of the PCP graduation requirement, served as a control group.
The most frequently discussed topic of the PCPs was cardiovascular disease. The mean overall rating by the faculty for the PCPs was 3.7 and 3.8 in academic years 2000 and 2001, respectively (maximum=5). In a qualitative analysis of the PCPs, students demonstrated insight into their patients' overall medical care, including the use of evidence-based medicine (EBM), quality improvement, and cost containment. There were no statistically significant differences, however, between the PCP and control groups on the UME-21 Graduation Survey. Nonetheless, more students who had completed the PCP reported that they had identified the total cost of a patient's stay, designed a quality improvement loop, and obtained clinical evidence from an EBM computer database. On this same survey, all students agreed with the use of clinical practice guidelines and cost containment.
The PCP appeared to be relevant to the students' learning needs, and they provided cogent critiques of the medical care they had rendered as well as critical analyses of their patients' discharge summaries and the cost of care including ways to reduce cost. On the other hand, we were unable to demonstrate any substantial differences in the results of the UME-21 Graduation Survey given to both the PCP and control groups. In spite of this lack of effect on students' attitudes, the PCP was perceived by the faculty to be valuable and has been incorporated into the required third-year family medicine clerkship at the University of Nebraska.