Beth Barron

Beth Barron headshotAssociate Professor of Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Dr. Beth Barron describes how she transitioned the course Foundations of Medicine Tutorials to an online format. In the video below, she shares the components of a CourseWorks case-based module from the course. 

Foundations of Medicine Tutorials is a class at Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) focused on teaching clinical skills such as patient interviewing and examinations. One teaching technique that we utilize is OSCE’s – observed structured clinical exams.  We train standardized patients to portray a patient presenting with a medical concern and including communication challenges. Students come to the center to interview and examine the patients and are assessed on their history taking, exam skills and medical reasoning with note writing.   

During the pandemic we were not able to do live in person sessions. We quickly transitioned to a Zoom format. Faculty members would meet 4 students in a Zoom room with a trained standardized patient to be observed.  There were a number of unexpected benefits to this transition. Having faculty and peers observe the students in real time led to excellent discussions and feedback on communication and history taking skills where everyone was able to learn from each other. Standardized patients were able to add their perspective in real time.  

Although we lost the ability to do the physical exam, we still asked students to brainstorm what exam maneuvers would be indicated and asked them to talk through their approach. This led to a better understanding by students of the purpose of specific maneuvers. Faculty would give verbal answers to what the findings were so students could use these results in their medical reasoning.  Faculty would then lead discussions about differential diagnosis and medical reasoning in real time. Students would submit notes after the session summarizing the encounter for feedback. With Zoom we were able to continue to meet our learning objectives for the course.  

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