Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Grant boosts e-Logbook development
A $35,000 research grant will boost ground-breaking work already underway to transform the learning experience of medical students with Monash University’s School of Rural Health (SRH) Latrobe Valley and Warragul sites.
The grant, awarded by the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences , is to further develop an innovative e-Logbook currently used by Gippsland medical students – a tool its creators believe has the potential to be marketed widely in the future.
Already the introduction of the e-Logbook has streamlined the way senior medical students on clinical placement are reviewed. This year there are 30 of these students working in 15 General Practices and hospitals across the Latrobe Valley and West Gippsland.
SRH Latrobe Valley & West Gippsland Deputy Director Dr Cathy Haigh, who is also the Year Level Coordinator, said “on-the-job” learning was a valuable and long standing tradition in medical education.
Recognising this, Bill Haigh, the Simulation and Blended Learning Coordinator, set out to improve this learning process; to answer how medical students’ learning on-the-job matched the medical curriculum, and supported relevant knowledge and skill acquisition. The e-Logbook is the result.
Prior to the e-Logbook, student placement tracking was paper-based. Recordings were not standardised and it was difficult to collate the data to assess learning and to monitor delivery. The e-Logbook supports students to record against a standard and collation of learning experiences is automatic.
Mr Haigh’s background is in cognitive science. He constantly asks: “Why do we do it that way? Is there a better way?”
The idea of an electronic program made sense to the team: students would receive daily reports and supervisors three-weekly reports which are produced and accessed electronically.
Mr Haigh developed the concept of the e-Logbook in a weekend, adapting the idea to suit local needs. There is an international template, the International Primary Care Classification codes that he used to underpin the e-Logbook design.
The e-Logbook was ready to be piloted in 2010.
The ease of reporting allows students and their supervisors to see and address any problems early in a placement. The e-Logbook also ensures that students are being exposed to a wide range of presentations across four clinical specialty areas: Women’s Health, Children’s Health, Medicine of the Mind (Psychiatry) and General Practice.
The intention of the e-Logbook is to support learning in situ and the aim is to reduce the administrative burden on students and supervisors.
It should take a minimum of 45 seconds to enter details about patient conditions seen and managed under supervision while on placement (no names or other identifying data are used).
Dr Haigh said the grant would allow further expansion of the e-Logbook. It will assist in automating the logbook’s reporting function and enhance its presentation on the small screens of hand-held devices like smart phones, improving students’ access to this resource. The money will also support refinement of the psychiatric placement component of the e-Logbook in line with the release of the latest version of the diagnostic and statistical manual for this specialty.
“Medical training in Gippsland matches national and international standards,” she said.
“We are very fortunate to have two major training hospitals (Latrobe Regional Hospital and West Gippsland Healthcare Group in Warragul) and GP clinics who all want to assist students gain practical knowledge.”
Head of the School of Rural Health, Professor Judi Walker, said the school’s rural health research program focused on improving the health status of rural and Indigenous communities.
“We are proud to lead and foster a program of rural health research,” she added.
The local research project team includes all the medical disciplines covered by the e-Logbook. It comprises Mr Haigh, Dr Haigh, SRH Latrobe Valley & West Gippsland Director Associate Professor Joseph Tam (also a paediatrician), Traralgon GP Dr Paul Brougham, local paediatrician Dr Cathy Coates and Director of Mental Health Services at LRH, Associate Professor Paul Lee. The team members meet monthly to review work on the project.
They hope the final resource can be marketed outside Monash. A prototype is now being developed to facilitate integration of learning across the years of medical training. There has also been interest from other sections of the medical profession.