Embracing uncertainty: medical student perceptions of a pediatric bootcamp developed in response to mandated changes during the pandemic

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BMC Med Educ. 2022 May 21;22(1):390. doi: 10.1186/s12909-022-03471-y.


BACKGROUND: The start of the COVID-19 pandemic led to both shortened clinical rotations and consequent loss of embedded formal teaching time. In response to these learning gaps, a novel, virtual pediatric bootcamp was developed to provide a consolidated 3-week learning opportunity for clinical medical students. Pre-clinical students were encouraged but not required to participate, given the suspension of clinical patient experiences for all undergraduate medical learners and the uncertainty of when clinical rotations would resume. This group of students were particularly challenged with adapting their learning in response to the pandemic while also preparing to apply their pre-clinical knowledge to solve clinical problems.

METHODS: A qualitative thematic analysis was used for this study. Ten semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with second-year medical students to explore their experiences and perceptions of the pediatric bootcamp. The six phases of thematic analysis proposed by Braun and Clark guided data analysis. To ensure rigour, the three aspects of rigour-credibility, transferability and confirmability were utilized throughout the project.

RESULTS: Qualitative exploration from semi-structured phone interviews of second-year medical students’ perceptions and experiences of this new and unanticipated learning experience revealed four main themes: (a) clinical relevance, describing how students were pushed to think about clinical problems in a new way; (b) timing, which explored conflicts related to competing interests, mental preparedness, and the interval between learning and application; (c) teaching strategies, describing how active learning and interaction were facilitated and challenges that arose; and (d) learning resources, highlighting the curated and accessible resources made available to the students, as well as those resources that learners develop for themselves.

CONCLUSIONS: A novel three-week online case-based pediatric bootcamp fostered application of knowledge for clinical reasoning at a time when students were transitioning from preclinical to clinical learning. Students were stretched to balance competing priorities, and the bootcamp curated synchronous and asynchronous learner opportunities while allowing them to reflect on their own learning styles and effective virtual learning strategies. While bootcamps are often used to prepare learners for transitions between clinical stages, our findings suggest the bootcamp format can also facilitate transition from preclinical to clinical roles.

PMID:35597978 | DOI:10.1186/s12909-022-03471-y