Having just finished my ICU rotation, the last official clinical rotation of my fourth year, it feels a bit strange to be out of the hospital again. Something that doesn’t change, however, is the amount of time I’ll spend behind a computer screen. As much as we like to spend time with our patients and emphasize the human connection inherent in our practice of medicine, it is amazing just how much time it takes to write notes, copy and paste labs, put in orders, and look up lab results on this machine that was supposed to make our lives easier.
But I digress… For the next 2 weeks I’ll be working on a paper that examines the role of nutritional education in medical school and analyzing the results of an online survey I have pestered my classmates about in order to see what I can learn from them. I started a nutritional counseling elective (elective= not mandatory= sacrificing your precious free time to attend) during my second year of medical school, and offered 8 lunchtime lectures for students to learn more about nutrition and how to apply it when counseling patients. I emphasized that this course should have at minimum 15 minutes at the end of the lecture where students can apply what they learned by practicing one-on-one counseling with a partner and receive feedback on their delivery/communication skills. This elective was carried on by the work of several amazing medical students who expanded the breadth and depth of the topics covered and it grew from just 8 lectures to 12. Additionally, I plan to have my motivational interview videos uploaded onto YouTube and iTunes University and to personalize the iTunesU course page for the Nutritional Counseling Elective.
When it comes to surveying your classmates, there are a couple things I’ve learned. First, our school LOVES surveys, but as a student you get tired of filling them out and even more tired of people telling you “it will only take 5 minutes.” Obviously making the survey short is ideal, but at the same time you don’t want to leave anything important out. I don’t know if it’s just me, but rarely will I stop a survey that seems to go on forever, although I may be a bit more careless with my answers as my patience starts wearing thin. I know there are a lot of people who don’t open emails that might be surveys, the sort of “ignorance is bliss” approach. I try to at least get people to read my emails, and one way is the subject line. If you start it off with “survey,” there’s a good chance it will end up in a few recycle bins. My first email had the subject line “I want to hear from YOU!” which got me 120 responses. About a week later I sent an email saying “What is 120?” and 57 more people responded. Lastly, I posted the links on Facebook in each of the class pages and just 6 people responded in <24 hrs. That gives me a grand total of 183 responses so far.. not too shabby. Not only that, but I have about the same amount of survey responders in each class, 43 MS1s and in the MS2, MS3, and MS4 classes there were 42 students from each one that replied. Plus I included “other” for MSTP, MBA, research year, etc. students, and 14 of them responded. Overall, I’d say that’s a pretty good turn out, and I’m hoping I can get >50% of the student body to respond… wish me luck!