Studying the study habits of tomorrow’s physicians

How are today’s medical students and residents learning and studying?

That’s the question Janice Taylor, M.D., an assistant professor in the department’s division of pediatric surgery, is asking through two research projects related to medical and surgical education.

After overviewing the learning resources available for UF med students on their intranet portal, Taylor, who joined the department in 2013, developed a series of questions to evaluate the study habits of and materials most used by UF medical students in their third-year surgery rotation.

She is particularly interested in students’ use of the online resources created by UF College of Medicine faculty members.

“The idea is to look at all that students are using and see well, where are we putting our resources and our time, our attending time, when it comes to organizing the clerkships,” Taylor explained, “And how can we make this better?”

Taylor also wants to measure students’ use of information sources such as Wikipedia and Medscape, which are readily accessible and easy to use, but not as credible as textbooks. She also wants to learn why students consult such sources.

“Another big thing as far as adult learning goes and online learning goes … is teaching appropriate use of resources — what’s considered accurate, what’s considered good,” she noted.

Taylor is still collecting data for this project, and plans to compare the information she collects on study habits to exam performance.

In a separate project, Taylor has been adding materials to the College of Medicine’s curriculum site for interns, to boost the selection of credible resources available.

She also has a survey planned for the interns, to ask questions similar to those she’s posing to medical students. Again, Taylor will compare information she collects to the interns’ performance on SCORE (Surgical Council on Resident Education) exams.

Results of the two studies, Taylor anticipates, will help foster conversation between faculty and the physicians of tomorrow about the characteristics and value of credible materials, the usefulness of resources that are currently available, and ways to improve medical and surgical education.

“It’ll help prompt more of a dialogue between us and the residents and us and the med students,” she said.