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Customer Story

Cardiff University
School of Medicine

Quality feedback in medical education is a vital component of teaching and supervising in clinical practice as it supports the development of trainee doctors and enhances their knowledge, skills and professional performance. With the challenges currently faced by the NHS: a growing, ageing population, the recent COVID-19 epidemic and a pervading shortage of medical professionals, supporting the development of medical students and graduate trainee doctors is more important than ever.

 

At Cardiff University School of Medicine, the education team sought to increase practice-based learning opportunities for undergraduate medical students in years 3-5 by introducing Supervised Learning Events (SLEs), with support from Clinical Assessors in practice and designated Educational Supervisors. This structure and network of support reflects standard practice in Postgraduate Medical Training in the UK, thus suitably preparing Cardiff undergraduate students for when they embark on their postgraduate years.

As trainee doctors, years spent on placement in clinical practice are vital, informative years for developing experience, skills and knowledge to take forward into their future career and chosen specialism. SLEs play a vital role in learning and development as students are supervised carrying out procedures by an experienced medical professional (Clinical Assessor). Within a SLE, they are provided with valuable feedback to support their ongoing development.

Prior to 2018, Cardiff University School of Medicine used paper-based books for feedback to undergraduates throughout their placement, this led to a number of clear challenges which impacted their learning and development:

  • Paper-based feedback was not stored in a centralised location, it was difficult for the student to identify trends in feedback or act on feedback
  • Written feedback could be difficult to read, or due to shortness on time result in less feedback or lower quality feedback given to the student
  • A lack of visibility from the academic staff meant that students could not receive additional support from the university, equally, the university could not put in place improvements to the way feedback was gathered for the students
  • Cardiff medical students are displaced in placement areas across Wales, some rural and remote. With this in mind, students felt isolated or unsupported whilst they were in clinical practice owing to the limited feedback paper-based processes and the university having the inability to provide additional support
  • National Student Survey results repeatedly show ‘Assessment & Feedback’ amongst the lowest ranked categories for students nationally and provided further reason for this to be addressed

In early 2018, Cardiff School of Medicine embarked on an innovative project to overcome these challenges and dramatically improve the support and feedback their students gained in practice. The aim of this project was to move from paper-based feedback to electronic feedback specifically designed to support medical and healthcare students in clinical environments. After a rigorous tender process, Cardiff University School of Medicine chose Myprogress, an electronic practice-based assessment and feedback platform developed by Learning Technology company, MyKnowledgeMap.

Implementing Myprogress to support trainee doctors in practice

Accompanied by a mobile app which works completely offline, Myprogress enables students to obtain feedback in the moment, without disruption such as a lack of WiFi or mobile signal. With extensive experience working with medical and healthcare institutions across the world, Cardiff University School of Medicine chose Myprogress to support the training and development of their students in clinical practice. In September 2018, Cardiff switched from the paper-based book to Myprogress to assess and provide feedback to all 900 students in years 3-5. Myprogress Educational Supervisor report forms were also introduced, allowing students to be digitally signed-off at the end of a placement. Training was available to all assessors and they are “nudged” to ensure that they have availed themselves of this training when they are asked to complete each assessment.

 

Alongside addressing the challenges Cardiff University was experiencing, Myprogress was chosen due to:

  • The ability to gather assessment and feedback data on students in a centralised location enabling Cardiff University to have visibility of this information so that they could make improvements to the way their students were assessed and supported in clinical practice.
  • The ability to record assessment and feedback with the student in a challenging clinical environment was made easier for the Clinical Assessor as they could either use a mobile phone or desktop to record feedback for the student.
  • Educational Supervisors could easily review all SLE feedback students were given within a placement in a single space either in person or remotely. As a result, they could prepare for meetings, provide greater quality summative feedback and sign-off as well as ensure that student was fully supported.
  • Students could easily use the feedback to act and address key areas of development, equally staff could have visibility of how a student is performing remotely and act to support that student in a timely way.
  • Cardiff University were able to author and create their own Educational Supervisor report form, Mini-CEX and other feedback and assessment forms for SLEs within Myprogress, giving full control in how feedback was gathered and how the student was assessed in practice.
Making a positive impact on trainee doctors at Cardiff University...

Cardiff University were able to author and create their own Educational Supervisor report form, Mini-CEX and other feedback and assessment forms for SLEs within Myprogress, giving full control in how feedback was gathered and how the student was assessed in practice.  Since implementing Myprogress, Cardiff School of Medicine has been able to extensively gather valuable digital data on the performance and progress of their students on placement. Students have been able to gain feedback during SLEs in a timely way enabling them to make a difference to their training and development. Anecdotally, the fact that feedback and performance data has been gathered remotely for Cardiff University students, has made a huge difference to the support they have been able to have throughout challenging periods.


My Progress has allowed faculty to see what is happening in real time on clinical placement, it has allowed us to see who is actually giving the feedback so that we can target assessor training appropriately. It has also allowed us to start to understand student and assessor behaviour in the workplace and thus see what is necessary for us to do to improve feedback, so that our students develop their proficiency and clinical skills.” - Rhian Goodfellow, Undergraduate Medicine Programme Director at Cardiff School of Medicine.

Myprogress has made a particular impact during winter storms and difficult travelling conditions across Wales where students are based across a range of remote placement areas, as well as throughout the current extremely challenging COVID-19 epidemic.


Using My Progress has enabled us to look at the quality of the reflections remotely throughout the pandemic and helped us to either reward students who are doing well or support students who require further help” adds Rhian Goodfellow.

Amongst the many benefits, Myprogress has brought to medical students and staff at Cardiff University, one principal outcome has been in enabling Cardiff University to use Myprogress data to conduct valuable research to improve the way they provide feedback, assess and support their students in practice. 

Using Myprogress data to enhance assessment and feedback going forward... 

As a result of Myprogress and this research, during the Summer of 2020, the content of each of the feedback and assessment forms for medical student cohorts in years 1-5, has been extensively re-considered.  Following the results of the research, rating scales have been adjusted and descriptive instructions have been provided within each section of the forms.  For example, it is suggested that assessors use the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) acronym to ensure that students are provided with clear and specific written feedback in certain Myprogress forms. These amended/new forms will be implemented in 2020/21 along with new briefing documents and training videos to ensure their correct use.

Alongside this, students in year three will be allocated an Educational Supervisor for the whole of the academic year. This will hopefully allow time for student and supervisor relationships to grow and develop, providing an element of continuity and potentially allowing greater quality feedback to be provided with multiple opportunities for performance and progress to be monitored during this time.

Building on positive outcomes and expanding the use of Myprogress at Cardiff School of Medicine...

Going forward, Cardiff School of Medicine plan to extend the use of MyProgress during the forthcoming Academic Year as a conduit to support students Education Plans which will inform specific teaching and learning needs. They also aim to use My progress to capture feedback on performance in formative clinical examinations. This allows students to receive instantaneous feedback which will allow them to reflect on and improve performance immediately. This compares with a 2-4-week delay if it were to be captured within our previous paper format.

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