More EHR training, simulations desired in medical schools, student says

Millennials currently in medical school are called digital natives, but even those who grew up alongside technology are struggling with adopting EHRs in the clinical setting. To address this, one medical student makes the case for integrating EHRs more closely with classwork and simulating clinical experiences requiring EHR use with a full care team.

In a Huffington Post piece, Barbara Lam, a third year medical student at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California in Los Angeles, suggests reforming how students are taught to use EHRs.

She writes about her class' EHR orientation a couple of months ago, which she describes as a group of third year medical students with "quizzical looks and furrowed eyebrows: the faces of students desperately trying to understand even a small piece of what was being taught."

Even digital natives are perplexed by the complexity of EHRs, Ms. Lam writes. So instead of introducing EHRs at the beginning of the third year of medical school, she writes it would be beneficial to form a solid foundation and begin exploring and using EHRs in the first two years of school.

"A good approach to any new technology is to learn by doing — not in the hospital when you're in a time crunch and the constant priority of patient care weighs on your shoulders, but in a classroom where you can click on any button your heart desires," she writes.

Instead of having an instructor at the front of the class going through steps on using the EHR, Ms. Lam writes it would be beneficial to create clinical scenarios for patients in the classroom mirroring those they will encounter in the hospital. She suggests bringing together student colleagues from various disciplines, such as pharmacy, nursing and social work, to replicate a real-life clinical scenario.

"The students would make a lot of mistakes, but every time they click on a wrong button, there's one less unfamiliar button," Ms. Lam writes. "I believe a team of students would be able to identify workflows with little prompting, and ultimately feel more comfortable with the system because they've clicked around…Little by little, the intimidating technology is tamed."

What's more, interacting with the EHR in this manner while still in medical school can help inform clinically relevant improvements for future EHR design, she writes.

"Even on day one of the third year of medical school, students are thinking about how to care for their patients, not how they can improve their EHR experience. In order to end this cycle of complacency and work together to improve medical record systems, we have to train early, and train well. One solution is more time to play — outside of the hospital, in a low-risk and collaborative environment," she writes.

More articles on EHRs:

Jonathan Bush: We're using old technology to measure how bad new technology is
Physicians rate top EHRs for use, satisfaction, vendor support
The EHRs used at US News' 10 top hospitals

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