Research Articles (Centre for Health Professions Education)

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    Advancing the science of health professions education through a shared understanding of terminology : a content analysis of terms for “faculty”
    (Elsevier B.V., 2021-09-10) Teunissen, Pim W.; Atherle, Anique; Clelan, Jennifer J.; Holmboe, Eric; Hu. Wendy C. Y.; Durning, Steven J.; Nishigor, Hiroshi; Samaraseke, Dujeepa D.; Schuwirth, Lambert; Van Schalkwyk, Susan; Maggi, Lauren A.
    Introduction: Health professions educators risk misunderstandings where terms and concepts are not clearly defined, hampering the field’s progress. This risk is especially pronounced with ambiguity in describing roles. This study explores the variety of terms used by researchers and educators to describe “faculty”, with the aim to facilitate definitional clarity, and create a shared terminology and approach to describing this term. Methods: The authors analyzed journal article abstracts to identify the specific words and phrases used to describe individuals or groups of people referred to as faculty. To identify abstracts, PubMed articles indexed with the Medical Subject Heading “faculty” published between 2007 and 2017 were retrieved. Authors iteratively extracted data and used content analysis to identify patterns and themes. Results: A total of 5,436 citations were retrieved, of which 3,354 were deemed eligible. Based on a sample of 594 abstracts (17.7%), we found 279 unique terms. The most commonly used terms accounted for approximately one-third of the sample and included faculty or faculty member/s (n = 252; 26.4%); teacher/s (n = 59; 6.2%) and medical educator/s (n = 26; 2.7%) were also well represented. Content analysis highlighted that the different descriptors authors used referred to four role types: healthcare (e.g., doctor, physician), education (e.g., educator, teacher), academia (e.g., professor), and/or relationship to the learner (e.g., mentor). Discussion: Faculty are described using a wide variety of terms, which can be linked to four role descriptions. The authors propose a template for researchers and educators who want to refer to faculty in their papers. This is important to advance the field and increase readers’ assessment of transferability.
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    Applying empathic communication skills in clinical practice : medical students' experiences
    (AOSIS, 2021-02) Archer, Elize; Meyer, Ilse S.
    Background: Studies have demonstrated that empathic communication improves patient outcomes and helps doctors to deliver accurate symptom reports and diagnoses. These benefits emphasise the need for medical students to apply empathic communication skills during their interactions with patients. Focussed empathic communication skill workshops were introduced into the undergraduate medical students’ training at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. This study aimed to explore students’ perceptions of applying these empathic communication skills during their clinical practice. We were interested in determining the factors that might influence the development of empathic communication skills. The findings could help curriculum developers to optimise these workshops for inclusion in a formal medical curriculum. Methods: This study followed a qualitative, descriptive enquiry, exploring the perceptions of medical students through focus-group discussions. The students (N = 18) were selected using convenience sampling techniques. Recordings were transcribed, and the data were thematically analysed. Results: The two main themes identified relate to the students and the clinical learning environment. The students valued the knowledge and skills they acquired. However, feelings of emotional vulnerability, a lack of language proficiency and inadequate role modelling were highlighted as challenges when applying empathic communication during clinical practice. Conclusion: The students reported positively on the workshops as these improved both their patient and personal interactions. However, for students to develop these skills further for clinical practice, they need more intentional and supervised opportunities to practise, reflect and receive constructive feedback. These learning opportunities could help medical schools deliver graduates who can competently communicate with their patients in an empathic manner.
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    The development of research competence among specialist registrars in South Africa: Challenges and opportunities for research education and capacity development
    (South African Medical Association, 2022-01) Moxley, K.
    To equip physicians with the competencies that support evidence-based healthcare, curriculum frameworks for medical education often promote scholarly activity as an essential component of training. Many medical schools worldwide expect medical trainees to participate in some form of research during their undergraduate and postgraduate training. This requirement is especially important in Africa, where there is also much need to develop clinical research capacity and an evidence base that is contextualised to the specific healthcare challenges on the continent. In South Africa, the requirement for specialist trainees to complete a research project (as part of a Master of Medicine, MMed) was made mandatory from 2011 and has introduced several difficulties for many training centres. There is concern that institutions are failing to develop medical specialists who are competent in their role as scholars, particularly in their ability to conduct research. In this article, I review the South African literature that discusses the research component of medical specialist registration. In addition to summarising the challenges associated with MMed projects and recent efforts to address them, I interrogate whether the current status of MMed research education is likely to be contributing to the successful development of research competence among this unique group of postgraduates. By consolidating the current debate, I hope to encourage a point of departure between criticising the challenges and adopting proactive strategies to address them. There is a great need for medical educators to design innovative and learner-centred research education strategies that can better develop research competence among African healthcare professionals.
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    Patient-centred care: The patients’ perspective – A mixed-methods pilot study
    (2020-10-09) Turner, Roseanne E; Archer, Elize
    Background: Patient centredness is a broad concept, a moral philosophy. Patient-centred care can be viewed as the actions of patient-centredness. One of the most pertinent actions that a healthcare practitioner can utilise to deliver patient-centred care is empathic communication. Whilst many medical programmes include empathetic communication skills as part of their curricula, the recipients of this care are not asked about the relevance of this teaching. Aim: We attempted to determine whether the Western constructs of empathy were relevant in our context and also establish whether there were any parts of the medical interview which participants felt were especially important to be communicated to in their home language. Setting: Two urban communities within the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Methods: This was a mixed-methods pilot study using an explanatory sequential design. Participants who would typically make use of public health care facilities and whose first language was Afrikaans or isiXhosa were conveniently sampled. A subgroup of participants was invited to take part in a follow-up focus group discussion to add clarity to the survey responses. Results and conclusion: Western constructs for empathy appeared to be relevant within our multicultural context. Patients wanted to communicate with their doctors and understand the cause of their problems as well as the management plan. Finally, whilst the numbers in this pilot study were too small to be generalisable, it was evident that patient-centred care was not perceived to be implemented in some public healthcare facilities attended by the participants, which resulted in them feeling unseen and disrespected.
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    Core competencies required by toxicology graduates in order to function effectively in a Poisons Information Centre : a Delphi study
    (Elsevier, 2020) Marks, C. J.; Louw, A. J. N.; Couper, I.
    Introduction: The availability of trained Medical Toxicologists in developing countries is limited and education in Medical Toxicology remains inadequate. The lack of toxicology services contributes to a knowledge gap in the management of poisonings. A need existed to investigate the core competencies required by toxicology graduates to effectively operate in a Poisons Information Centre. The aim of this study was to obtain consensus from an expert group of health care workers on these core competencies. This was done by making use of the Delphi technique. Methodology: The Delphi survey started with a set of carefully selected questions drawn from various sources including a literature review and exploration of existing curricula. To capture the collective opinion of experts in South Africa, Africa and also globally, three different groups were invited to participate in the study. To build and manage the questionnaire, the secure Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) web platform was used. Results: A total of 134 competencies were selected for the three rounds and in the end consensus was reached on 118 (88%) items. Panel members agreed that 113 (96%) of these items should be incorporated in a Medical Toxicology curriculum and five (4%) should be excluded. Discussion: All participants agreed that effective communication is an essential skill for toxicology graduates. The curriculum can address this problem by including effective pedagogy to enhance oral and written communication skills. Feedback from panellists indicated that the questionnaires were country-specific and not necessarily representative of all geographical locations. This is an example of the ‘battle of curriculum design’ where the context in which the curriculum will be used, will determine the content. Conclusion: The Delphi method, based on three iterative rounds and feedback from experts, was effective in reaching consensus on the learning outcomes of a Medical Toxicology curriculum. The study results will ultimately improve education in Medical Toxicology.