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Teaching of Medical Informatics in UME-21 Medical Schools: Best Practices and Useful Resources


Objectives: Information-based decision making is important to modern medical practice. This report identifies learning objectives, teaching innovations, and student outcomes for teaching medical informatics (MI) in medical schools that participated in the Undergraduate Medical Education for the 21st Century (UME-21) curriculum project.

Methods: Project reports by the UME-21 schools were analyzed, and curricular content was classified in terms of the five categories for MI literacy adapted from the Medical School Objectives Project. Student self-assessments of adequacy of exposure to MI were reviewed.

Results: Teaching methods included demonstrations, lectures, small-group tutorials, hands-on labs, and task-based assignments. The curriculum was taught during the first 3 years of medical school with medical librarians participating. Content examples in the five categories of medical literacy were: “Role of the Lifelong Learner” (accessing, evaluating, and using information and databases), “Role of Clinician”(obtaining patient information, using decision support), “Role of Educator/Learner/Communicator” (accessing information for patient education, student-teacher communication, studying Web-based cases,making presentations, accessing on-line course information), “Role of Researcher/Evaluator” (documenting patient encounters), and “Role of Manager” (using drug formularies and clinical guidelines). Seniors exposed to the UME-21 curriculum reported higher levels of exposure to MI than did untrained seniors 2 years earlier; however, seniors at non-UME-21 schools reported equally high levels.

Conclusions: UME-21 schools developed creative materials for teaching students to use computers for learning, communication,and searching for information. Outcome measures suggest that MI has become an important curriculum topic in most medical schools.