Introduction Teaching bedside procedure skills to medical students is typically done during inpatient ward rotations at the actual patient's bedside. We investigated the practicality of a short bedside procedure skills course using standardized patients for incoming third-year medical students.
Methods The short bedside procedures course involved incoming third-year medical students (n = 198) at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and was part of the clerkship orientation week at the beginning of the 2004-2005 academic year. Students were tested prior to the orientation week with a 12 question on-line quiz that covered the following topics: arterial blood gas sampling, central line technique, thoracocentesis, paracentesis, and lumbar puncture. Questions on the pretest covered indications for the procedure, anatomical landmarks, technique, and complications. During the end of the week, students completed an on-line posttest. The posttest was matched to the pretest in terms of similarly worded questions and topics. Participation in the pretest and posttest was completely optional. Attendance of a one-hour didactic session at the beginning of the week was mandatory as well as a one-hour small group session demonstrating each bedside procedure. Students were divided into small groups of 5 for the bedside procedure demonstration sessions. Standardized patients were used during these one-hour small group sessions. Actual procedure kits were used during the demonstration. Needles were not uncapped during the demonstration. The standardized patients were used to demonstrate anatomical landmarks and body positioning.
Results A total of 73 students completed both the pretest and the posttest. The mean score on the pretest was 62%, while the mean score on the posttest was 80%.
Discussion From the results, it is apparent that these incoming third-year medical students improved their knowledge in bedside procedure skills after the short course. Students appreciated the opportunity to observe a mock demonstration of actual bedside procedures in a simulated environment.
Conclusion A short bedside procedure course taught at the beginning of the third year can be very helpful for students in terms of improving their knowledge in indications, technique, and complications of bedside procedures. The on-line pretest also allowed students to identify areas of weakness in bedside procedures, while the on-line posttest allowed students to track their improvement and further identify areas of weakness.