In the U.S. and Canada, academic support in medical education is variable and non-standardized. Most academic support relies on a deficit model based largely on exam remediation of written or clinical skills’ assessments. To address this remediation, med schools and graduate medical ed programs might offer time-limited tutoring support. However, depending on the reason for the failing score, tutoring can reinforce a deficit model because it assumes that the factual information tested was not well understood.
Knowledge deficits are just one of the reasons why underachievement occurs. Therefore, an alternative (and proactive) approach to remediation hinges on the premise that a medical student or resident has the ability to understand the factual knowledge but has not yet developed an effective study protocol to learn it. Instead of using content-based tutoring for remediation, schools should consider a process-based approach. One example involves a coaching and mentoring model. This model prioritizes learning how to learn rather than backfilling or memorizing what to learn.
In medical education, factual knowledge includes several factors, such as detailed information (terms or definitions), conceptual information (general principles), and the ability to engage in verbal reasoning (clinical judgment) and decision-making regarding diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, any one of these areas could be challenging.
In 2010, we designed a time-limited academic support model that takes an evidence-based approach to learning and achieving in medical education. In coming weeks, this blog will focus on how this approach works and strategies that have proven useful for medical students and residents.