As educators, we often find ourselves trying to balance the dichotomy of covering required content and engaging students in a meaningful way. Part of this balancing act includes being sensitive to students’ costs in regard to materials and time, as well as having an understanding of today’s learner. Many of today’s learners grew up with video technology at their disposal, so it is no surprise that we may struggle with our traditional lectures to keep them “on the edge of their seats.” Our students’ attention is constantly being pulled in multiple directions.
One motto we must keep in mind when balancing this dichotomy is “meet the students where they are.” Each student cohort ebbs and flows with different learning preferences, and this motto allows us to be flexible in our delivery of content by employing multimodal techniques to engage our learners. This includes providing meaningful resources that enhance their learning.
At our university, an integral component of this strategy has been using MedBridge’s online learning platform as part of our student engagement strategy. The following are ways in which the platform has allowed us to improve our students’ levels of engagement and ease the annual compliance burden.
1. Complete Annual Compliance Content Online
Covering the details of topics like HIPAA, OSHA, and personal protective equipment (PPE) each year can be a pain. We all know this is essential material, but it’s challenging to find a place to cover it in an already jam-packed curriculum—not to mention the challenge of making it exciting and engaging each year.
MedBridge offers exactly what we require in annual compliance testing. Using MedBridge, we can be confident that the latest information is being covered in an engaging way, and tracking becomes easy. We have the students upload their course completion certificates to their clinical portfolio each year. That way, we know it is done, and if documentation is needed for their clinical site, it is just a click away.
The courses we use include:
- HIPAA: Clinical Training for the Healthcare Setting (2020)
- OSHA: Personal Protective Equipment (2020)
- OSHA: Bloodborne Pathogens & Standard Precautions (2020)
2. Supplement Challenging Content
In our advanced musculoskeletal course, we cover prosthetics and amputations by inviting an expert to present a lecture and lab with typical gait deviations. However, no matter how many times the students have been exposed to that information, it can still be a struggle to retain it.
We support our in-class content with:
- Recognizing Common Hindrances to Physical Therapy Progression, Chapter 2—Common Gait Deviations, presented by John Fergason
- Understanding the Transtibial and Transfemoral Limb/Socket Interfaces, presented by John Fergason
- Evaluating Patients with Amputations, Chapter 3—Typical Gait, Patient Education and Goal Setting, presented by Alicia White
You might notice that we don’t necessarily have them complete the entire course. Instead, we have them complete selected chapters and pull test questions directly from that material. This gives our students more repetition with difficult content and also caters to various learning preferences.
3. Flip Your Classroom (In a Meaningful Way)
While the expression “flipping the classroom” has become overused, we have found it can be done in an engaging and meaningful way.
We only have students in class for a limited time, and engaging them in active learning can be deeply beneficial. Group discussions, demonstrations, and kinesthetic practice are in the highest level of learning, and flipping the classroom provides more time to employ those tactics.
One example of how we utilize Medbridge with a flipped classroom style is when we are teaching neuroscience of pain. We ask students to watch The “How-To” of Teaching Patients About Pain by Adriaan Louw prior to a class period, and then we do case scenarios that allow students to practice utilizing pain education with patients. Students appreciate getting to put these new concepts in action right away after learning them, and Adriaan Louw is very engaging and informative.
4. Provide a Resource
For many students, one time watching and practicing hands-on skills in the lab is not enough. For students needing additional practice or instruction with hands-on techniques—or during an occasion when you can’t meet in person such as natural disasters or a pandemic—Medbridge has quality resources educators can use to supplement the student’s needs.
For our introduction to musculoskeletal class, we use MedBridge’s Orthopedic Exam Tests and Manual Therapy Techniques library to supplement our teaching of psychomotor skills. These resources have been extremely helpful, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This library is also a valuable resource for students in their final year advanced musculoskeletal course. While they need to apply orthopedic special tests and manual therapy skills in complex cases, it has been 18 months since the material was originally presented. A lot has come in and out of their brains since then! We recognize this gap in time can pose challenges, but these libraries allow our students to brush up on the areas they need and move past the areas they don’t.
5. Review Challenging Content
Translating didactic knowledge to real world clinical knowledge can sometimes be a challenge, especially with complex patients. We have found it difficult to fully simulate situations like transferring a patient with a chest tube or mobilizing a patient with a catheter. To help our students review and increase their confidence, we like our students to study these important skills prior to going on their acute care or inpatient rehab clinicals by completing Hospital Lines, Tubes, and Drains by Greg Adams.
Since we have implemented this, our clinical instructors have commented on our student preparedness, and we have fewer comments about students struggling in the acute care/ICU setting.
While Medbridge is only a part of a comprehensive student engagement strategy, the tools have proven invaluable for our students and faculty. Including this resource in our tool box has allowed us much flexibility to meet the student where they are—especially in light of a global pandemic, when our students are at home learning in the virtual environment.