Maggio & Kung, 2014 – “How are medical students trained to locate biomedical information to practice evidence-based medicine?”
Maggio & Kung directly address the way in which undergraduate level medical education teaches information retrieval skills in the context of Evidence Based Medicine – a seemingly fundamental matter for which existing research is disappointingly sparse. Their work analyzes a breadth of twelve studies into the matter and their implications for EBM educators.
There appears to be disparity with regard to when EBM and its principles – including information retrieval – ought to be introduced to students, with studies suggesting ranges from early pre-clinical education through the latest months of medical education. With respect to this disagreement, Maggio & Kung suggest a longitudinal approach.
In terms of frequency, however, there appears to be much evidence in favor of the intuitive: introducing information retrieval skills taught only once or as part of intense study phases are suboptimal, and the authors suggest providing recurring opportunities to use and practice them.
Context of education – including instructor and methodology – likewise held substantial weight. In keeping with good educational practice, students most optimally learn in an interactive environment, and healthcare is no exception. In addition to improved engagement, challenging students to use their newly-acquired information retrieval skills both practices them and familiarizes students with the controlled vocabularies of the medical community and their fields of study. Data regarding the role of interaction between students and instructors seems to have been difficult to divine for the purposes of this paper, although the authors suggest further exploration in future studies.