As any physician can tell you, med school is no cakewalk. The amount of information students have to learn is extraordinary. And, they learn even more during their residency once they’re done.
Today’s medical schools have the new burdon of teaching the next generation of physicians about electronic health records on top of their medical training. And according to a study published in Teaching and Learning in Medicine, many med schools are coming up short.
According to the journal, 64% of medical students allow students to use EHRs, and two-thirds of those schools allow students to make notes in the records. However, only 27% of the schools allowed students to view and write patient notes, and enter orders to be co-signed, while 41% of respondents said students could view and write notes, but not make orders.
Allowing students to take patient notes has long been an important part of their learning experience. And in many schools, students are getting less of this experience because of the lack of full access with EHR.
So why aren’t schools investing more into EHR training for students? Well, the study found a number of barriers. One of these is the lack of training and experience of the faculty; there just aren’t enough qualified instructors to teach EHR, at least at this level.
Other barriers found were concern for billing challenges, lack of computers available for EHR instructional use, lack of mechanisms that allow faculty or residents to review student order entries, and the possibility of student errors going undetected.
These are valid concerns, to be sure. But just like anything, these concerns could be overcome with dedicated attention, monetary investment, and additional safeguarding of data.
Providing More Experience
Fortunately, the study published a separate report that medical schools can use to give their students more experience with EHR. These guidelines are:
1. Students must document in the patient’s chart and their notes should be reviewed for content and format.
2. Students must have the opportunity to practice order entry in an EHR—in actual or simulated patient cases—prior to graduation.
3. Students should be exposed to the utilization of the decision aids that typically accompany EHRs.
4. Schools must develop a set of medical student competencies related to charting in the EHR and state how they would evaluate it.
I think it’s incredibly important students get as much time using EHR before they leave school. Knowing how to navigate these systems effectively is now an essential skillset that doctors didn’t have to have just 15 years ago. And students who don’t get access to this knowledge until they’re out of school have one more hurdle to jump over.