Shaping Perceptions of Basic Science Education by Utilizing Real Patient Encounters

Emine Ercikan Abali, Hanin Rashid, H. Liesel Copeland, Melissa Calt, Richard DeMaio, Jashvin Patel, Sam Schild, Sangita Phadtare, Louis Chai, Michael Ullo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Integrating basic science into clinical teaching has been a struggle for medical schools. However, early exposure to clinical experience has been associated with an increased understanding of the importance of basic science, positive attitudes, and developing clinical skills faster. Furthermore, early clinical exposure can help students reconnect with what drove them into medicine in the first place, especially when they are starting to feel burned out by the volume of lecture material. As a result, increasing patient experience during the first year has become a goal of many medical schools. Methods: At Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, interprofessional case discussions (ICDs) begin with a lecture that explicitly integrates basic science with a disease, followed by a discussion with a patient, their family, the healthcare team, and first-year students. Our objective is to explore whether ICDs enhanced the learning experience of basic science. Context: ICD satisfaction was assessed using evaluations from two different courses (2013–2016). Responses were analyzed quantitatively using descriptive statistics and qualitatively using a grounded-theory-content analysis. Study 2: A follow-up measure with current third- and fourth-year students on long-term retention of basic science was analyzed using a Wilcoxon signed rank test. Relative rankings of three different case-based teaching modalities were assessed using chi-square. Results: Students reported significantly higher satisfaction with ICDs (93%) for reinforcing concepts and integrating materials compared to Flipped Classrooms (66%) and Jigsaws (65%), x2 = 120.9, p <.001. Student comments fit into five categories: enjoyment, learning/retention, the clinical usefulness of basic science, affirming passion to be in medicine, and others. The follow-up measure indicated significantly greater retention of the biochemical basis of diseases covered during ICDs. Conclusions: While other teaching modalities integrate basic science into a clinical context, ICDs go further by displaying interprofessional care and the manifestation of the disease on the patient and the lives of their family. As a result, ICDs lead to a positive learning environment in which students feel comfortable, have a sense of rapport with the patients and health care providers, and feel motivated to learn basic science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-800
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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