journal of biomedical informatics
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Teaching Medical Informatics to Medical Students - What are the Challenges in a Model Curriculum?

Author(s): Behrends M, von Jan U, Paulmann V, Matthies H. K

One of the aims of medical education is teaching the students not only theoretical knowledge but also to equip them with the necessary practical skills. In Germany, a revision of the federal law on medical education in 2002 had exactly this aim. In the following years, all around Germany, medical programs tried to reflect this change in paradigm and in 2005, a new model of teaching medicine was introduced at the Hannover Medical School. The topic of medical informatics was integrated in the third year of the model curriculum. Although medical informatics itself plays an important role in medical care, it soon became apparent that the opinion of students does not reflect this importance, rather, they do not really understand why they have to deal with this subject at all or they are under various misconceptions concerning the role of medical informatics in medicine. Apparently, the conventional ways that had been in use in the past to teach medical informatics to medical students left too many questions unanswered. To alleviate this situation, we utilized the feedback given by the students – gathered in evaluations, but also voiced in live discussions as well as anonymous forums – to improve the way medical informatics is taught. In this paper, we first present a short appraisal of the situation, backed by the information gathered from the students, and then move on to give a more detailed view on the methods used to better convey the benefits of medical informatics in our classes. The new approach of teaching is also evaluated using standardized methods and the results are presented.