Teaching Medical Student Geriatrics Competencies in 1 Week: An Efficient Model to Teach and Document Selected Competencies Using Clinical and Community Resources

Authors


Address correspondence to Hal H. Atkinson, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Sticht Center on Aging, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157. E-mail: hatkinso@wakehealth.edu

Abstract

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the John A. Hartford Foundation published geriatrics competencies for medical students in 2008 defining specific knowledge and skills that medical students should be able to demonstrate before graduation. Medical schools, often with limited geriatrics faculty resources, face challenges in teaching and assessing these competencies. As an initial step to facilitate more-efficient implementation of the competencies, a 1-week geriatrics rotation was developed for the third year using clinical, community, and self-directed learning resources. The Wake Forest University School of Medicine Acute Care for the Elderly Unit serves as home base, and each student selects a half-day outpatient or long-term care experience. Students also perform a home-based falls-risk assessment with a Meals-on-Wheels client. The objectives for the rotation include 20 of the 26 individual AAMC competencies and specific measurable tracking tasks for seven individual competencies. In the evaluation phase, 118 students completed the rotation. Feedback was positive, with an average rating of 7.1 (1 = worst, 10 = best). Students completed a 23-item pre- and post-knowledge test, and average percentage correct improved by 15% (< .001); this improvement persisted at graduation (2 years after the pretest). On a 12-item survey of attitudes toward older adults, improvement was observed immediately after the rotation that did not persist at graduation. Ninety-seven percent of students documented completion of the competency-based tasks. This article provides details of development, structure, evaluation, and lessons learned that will be useful for other institutions considering a brief, concentrated geriatrics experience in the third year of medical school.

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