Addressing HPSP Learner Needs: A Pilot Study of a "Fundamentals of Military Medicine" Course

Anita Samuel, Yating Teng, Beth King, Ronald M Cervero, Steven J Durning, Charles W Beadling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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INTRODUCTION: Military medicine is uniquely different from civilian medicine, and military physicians in the USA are primarily recruited through the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). Medical students at the USUHS receive more than 650 hours of military-specific curriculum and spend 21 days engaged in field exercises. HPSP students complete two 4-week officer training sessions during their 4 years of medical school. There is a clear discrepancy in preparation for military medicine between HPSP and USUHS students. The USUHS School of Medicine undertook an initiative to develop a fully online self-paced course on the fundamentals of military medicine topics to help HPSP students bridge the gap in their preparation. This article will describe how the online self-paced course was designed and present feedback from the pilot offering of this course.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: As proof of concept of the effectiveness of an online self-paced course for teaching the fundamentals of military medicine to HPSP students, two chapters from the "Fundamentals of Military Medicine" published by the Borden Institute were transferred to an online format. Each chapter was offered as a module. In addition to the chapters, an introduction and closing module were added to the pilot course. The pilot course was offered over 6 weeks. Data for this study were obtained from module feedback surveys, pre- and post-course quizzes, participant focus groups, and course evaluation surveys. Pre- and post-test scores were analyzed to evaluate content knowledge. The open-ended survey questions on the feedback forms and focus group transcripts were collated and analyzed as textual data.

RESULTS: Fifty-six volunteers enrolled in the study, and 42 completed the pre- and post-course quizzes. This participant pool included HPSP students (79%, n = 44) and military residents in civilian graduate medical education programs (21%, n = 12). The module feedback surveys showed that most participants spent 1 to 3 hours on each of the modules, which they rated as extremely or quite reasonable (Module 1: 64%, Module 2: 86%, Module 3: 83%). There was not much difference between the overall quality of the three modules. The participants found content on application to the military-specific context very valuable. Of the different course elements, video content was rated as the most effective. Participant feedback clearly highlighted that HPSP students want a course that informs them about the fundamentals of military medicine and demonstrates how the information would apply to their lives. Overall, the course was effective. HPSP students showed knowledge gains and self-reported satisfaction with the course's objectives. They were able to locate information easily and understand the course expectations.

CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study has shown that there is a need for a course that provides the fundamentals of military medicine to HPSP students. A fully online self-paced course provides flexibility for the students and improves access.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMilitary Medicine
StateE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2023


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