|[ Teaching and Learning Forum 2001 ] [ Proceedings Contents ]|
In response to this evaluation the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Western Australia (UDO&G) proposed the introduction of an educational program to address these problems in the area of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. This program is based upon a teaching package developed by Suzanne Abraham from the University of Sydney (Abraham, 1997). The program embraces the UDO&G philosophy that knowledge and skills are best learned through experience. Learning from experience enables students to apply knowledge within a social context and as such can form the basis of group consciousness raising and social change (Weil and McGill, 1996).
In January 2000, the Student Pelvic Examination Clinic (SPEC) was introduced to increase the amount of experience students obtain in performing sensitive and competent pelvic examinations. This educational program utilises Gynaecological Teaching Associates (GTAs) who facilitate student achievement of the stated objectives through role play.
Patients have been used in clinical medical education for many years, with traditionally, a relatively passive role (Stacy and Spencer, 1999) or as standardised patients for assessment purposes (Lane et al, 1999). Gynaecological Teaching Associates conversely actively participate as teachers and assist in student development of not just clinical skills but improve confidence in areas of counselling and complex communication (Wijma, 1998).
Every student attended a two-hour theoretical session in preparation for the Student Pelvic Examination Clinic. This theoretical session had a 45 minute lecture on the process of performing a pelvic examination, revision of normal anatomy and alerted students to abnormal findings. The lecture was followed by the opportunity to practice their examination technique through the use of mannequins . During this clinical workshop students are asked to rotate through four stations that direct them in preparing their equipment, performing an abdominal examination, passing a speculum to locate the cervix and take a Pap smear, conduct a bi-manual examination and finally to document the language they would use to explain the procedure to a woman.
Subgroups of between 6 and 8 students then attend a two-hour clinical teaching session. During this session the students take a history from and perform a pelvic examination of two Teaching Associates under supervision of a doctor or nurse practitioner. The GTAs provide feedback for the students on their communication skills and examination technique. The GTA is the clinical teacher and the health professional present has a role in supporting the teaching associate only. During the remaining weeks of the obstetric and gynaecology term students are asked to document any pelvic examinations they perform and are assessed during one of these occasions.
The frequencies of each score were then recorded and means calculated. It was pre determined that the results would be interpreted as being positive if the mean score for each item was 3.5 or above and negative if the mean score was below 3.0. This is in alignment with the University of Western Australia's Centre for Staff Developments interpretation of the 5 point Likert scale as used to assess student perceptions of teaching related to curriculum evaluation. The cumulative frequencies for the percentages of students who agreed or strongly agreed with items, were not sure or disagreed with the item are also represented to indicate the spread of agreement.
In addition to this students in Year 6 during 1999 and 2000, have been asked to complete a questionnaire that records not only the number of examinations students have performed but asks them to record their own perceptions of how competent they feel to perform a pelvic examination independently and to rate their anxiety at performing this procedure. Data pertaining to this aspect of the evaluation will not be ready for analysis until the end of 2001 when the first cohort of students attending SPEC will complete their medical degree.
The lowest scoring item asked students to rate whether this method of teaching promoted teamwork. With a mean of 3.8 and a wider range of agreement between students this item requires further consideration as to how this result may be interpreted. It may be that students did not consider the team approach that is required of the community members and health professionals to provide the program. This aspect of the program may need to be explicitly identified in the future.
All of the mean scores were above 3.5 and as such have been interpreted as demonstrating positive student perceptions of SPEC. These results were supported further by the high level of agreement between students and open ended feedback received from students. There were no negative comments received. Many made statements such as the following:
Excellent! Takes the edge off the first clinical encounter requiring a pelvic. Much more confident, knew what it felt like and looked like. Very, very worthwhile.The only suggestion for change to the program made by students related to enabling students to see the instructional video again closer to their allocated clinic time.
An excellent session. Really good for overcoming initial anxieties about doing pelvic examinations. Feedback from tutors was constructive and encouraging.
Great chance to let (especially students) to do a VE. Women in clinic are often reluctant. Very good and appreciate having the volunteers giving up their time.
The ideal way of teaching. Highly worthwhile.
Please keep this as part of the course. It is very useful to actually be given the opportunity to practise clinical skills. I personally have done more SPECS as a result.
This was very helpful for us to get direct feedback about our approach, technique and attitude towards patients. Finally, we get a subjective response to whether or not one feels uncomfortable, in pain during the exam, or how we could improve on how we approached or explained something to a patient. Absolutely essential and useful for future clinical stuff.
|Item||Mean (/5)||Strongly Agree/ Agree (%)||Not Sure (%)||Disagree/ Strongly Disagree (%)|
|1. Learning objectives for SPEC were clear||4.4||97||3||0|
|2. SPEC was well organised||4.6||98||2||0|
|3. SPEC is a useful way of teaching pelvic exam||4.9||99||1||0|
|4. Content was appropriate for this method of teaching||4.7||98||2||0|
|5. SPEC helped prepare me for the clinical situation||4.8||99||1||0|
|6. SPEC made me feel more confident of my clinical skills||4.7||97||2||1|
|7. SPEC helped reduce my anxiety at performing a pelvic exam||4.6||92||6||2|
|8. This method of teaching promoted teamwork||3.8||64||30||6|
|9. I found the teaching associates to be good teachers||4.5||94||5||1|
|10. Feedback about student performance was appropriate||4.5||96||2||2|
|11. SPEC provided a supportive learning environment||4.6||98||1||1|
|12. Students were encouraged to give feedback about the clinic||4.3||93||7||1|
Similarly to the students responses, all GTAs agreed or strongly agreed that the clinic was well organised, that SPEC is a useful way of teaching pelvic examination and prepares students well for the clinical setting. One or two respondents were not sure or disagreed that all students had explained the procedure correctly, used appropriate language, obtained appropriate consent or were competent with their examination technique by the end of the clinic session. These responses are not unreasonable as SPEC is a training program and as such it should be expected that not all students would be competent with all of the learning objectives by the end of the four-hour training program. Each GTA has the opportunity to provide feedback to the student about these skills, which assists the student to develop competence and confidence while obtaining further practice in the clinical settings during the remainder of their Obstetrics and Gynaecology Term.
All of the GTAs agreed the students treated them with appropriate respect and 100% strongly agreed that SPEC should continue in 2001. These results as summarised in Table 2 and Figure 2 provide reassuring feedback about how the GTAs perceive their preparation for their role, the processes surrounding the SPEC and the way in which students view the GTAs role and respond to the teaching they provide.
|Item||Mean (/5)||Strongly Agree/ Agree (%)||Not Sure (%)||Disagree/ Strongly Disagree (%)|
|1. I understood what was involved with SPEC after the training program.||4.6||100||0||0|
|2. The training program prepared me for my role as Teaching Associate.||4.5||100||0||0|
|3. Overall I found SPEC to be well organised.||4.9||100||0||0|
|4. I think SPEC is a useful way of teaching pelvic examination to medical students.||4.9||100||0||0|
|5. I believe SPEC helps to prepare students for the clinical situation.||4.9||100||0||0|
|6. Overall the students have explained the procedure correctly to me.||4.0||88||12||0|
|7. In general the students have used appropriate language.||3.8||75||25||0|
|8. The students gained appropriate consent before proceeding with the examination.||3.8||75||12.5||12.5|
|9. I found students to be competent with the examination technique by the end of the clinic.||3.6||75||12.5||12.5|
|10. The students have treated me with appropriate respect as their Teaching Associate.||4.8||100||0||0|
|11. I believe the SPEC clinic should continue in 2001.||5.00||100||0||0|
The most successful avenues of recruitment have been through advertisements in local and community newspapers and advertising with university based student employment services. All women have been invited to attend a training session before deciding to join the program and each GTA has been allowed to self select their participation. Self selection was chosen as the most appropriate mechanism as it was believed it may assist in forming a group of GTAs more representative of the community at large than if they had been chosen in accordance with pre-determined selection criteria. The only exclusion criteria have been if a woman has had a hysterectomy so that all students are able to examine a woman with a uterus before encountering variations of normal. To date 12 women have participated on an ongoing basis as GTAs for 2000.
The ongoing need for recruitment and training has significantly shifted the focus of the role of Project Officer so that this ongoing function comprises a large amount of her duties and has meant that the amount of expenditure for advertising is triple that originally budgeted for.
Similarly it was anticipated that once the GTAs had been trained and had some sessions with the guidance of qualified health professionals they would be able to work more independently in pairs with the supervision of the Project Officer between two or three consulting rooms. Because of the difficulties recruiting GTAs the support provided them by the health professionals has been seen to be essential to the long term success of the program. This again has meant that the costs have been higher than expected and has resulted in the recruitment of more nursing staff with appropriate backgrounds and training as opposed to continuing with only medical staff support because of the cost involved.
These experiences together with the day to day difficulties of coordinating attendance of students, GTAs and health professionals provide insightful background for others contemplating using this method of teaching in other areas of clinical skill development.
|Group||N||Mean||Std. deviation||Std. error mean|
Table 4: Pelvic Examination Experience - comparison of mean scores for 1999 and 2000
Table 5: Pelvic examination experience - comparison of frequencies for 1999 and 2000
|1999 number of|
|Percentage||2000 number of|
This data demonstrates evidence of the positive impact of SPEC upon the amount of experience students obtain during their Obstetric and Gynaecology Term. Further evidence regarding student experiences obtained in 6th year will be collected at the end of 2001 when the current students finish their studies.
The Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry has provided the ongoing costs of SPEC for the year 2000 allocated a sum of $18,800. Funds have been spent in slightly different proportions to anticipated mainly due to the fewer than expected number of GTAs employed, the need for ongoing health professional support and subsequently higher than expected recruitment cost. Despite these difference SPEC has run with a small budget surplus which is in part due to monies received from outside parties. The Student Pelvic Examination Clinic would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of King Edward memorial Hospital in the form of the provision of physical resources for the weekly clinic and Dr Amanda Barnard from the Department of General Practice for assisting the clinic since inception without cost.
It is important to recognise the far reaching implications that programs such as SPEC can have on the ability of future practitioners to develop interpersonal skills that are appropriate within varied social contexts. These skills relate not only to pelvic examination but transcend all areas of women's health. Neither should we under-estimate the potential such programs have in bringing about attitudinal and behavioural shifts through positive role modelling which includes and emphasises the importance of members of the community/patients/clients as collaborative partners in health care provision.
Abraham, S. (1996). The effect of sexual experience on the attitudes of medical students to learning gynaecological examinations. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 17, 15-20.
Abraham, S. (1997). Scorpio Gynaecological examination: An educational package integrating assessment and learning. Ashwood House Medical: Melbourne.
Frye, C. A. and Weisberg, R. B. (1994). Increasing the incidence of routine pelvic examinations: behavioural medicine's contribution. Women & Health, 21(1), 33-55.
Lane, J. L., Ziv, A. and Boulet, J. R. (1999). A pediatric clinical skills assessment using children as standardized patients. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 153.
Stacy, R. and Spencer, J. (1999). Patients as teachers: A qualitative study of patients' views on their role in a community-based undergraduate project. Medical Education, 33(9), 688-694.
Weil, S. and McGill, I. (ed). 1996. Making Sense of Experiential Learning: Diversity in Theory and Practice. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Wijma, B., Gullberg, M. and Kjessler, B. (1998). Attitudes towards pelvic examination in a random sample of Swedish women. Acta Obstetrica et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 77(4), 422-428.
|Please cite as: Carr, S., Tregonning, A. and Carmody, D. (2001). Student Pelvic Examination Clinic: Teaching with innovation. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Expanding Horizons in Teaching and Learning. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 7-9 February 2001. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2001/carr.html|