A qualitative study of undergraduate clerkships in the intensive care unit: It’s a brand new world
OBJECTIVE To review the current status of critical care education of medical students, focusing on how early, vigorous undergraduate training may address the needs of the learners and society. DATA SOURCES Literature review of focused PubMed searches, online databases, and reference lists of recent publications. RESULTS Although management of unstable and critically ill patients is required of most interns, undergraduate education in these skills remains largely elective, scattered, and highly variable. Critical care competencies for medical school graduates have not been established in the United States, and many students feel unprepared for these responsibilities that they assume as interns. Several successful approaches to medical student education in critical care have been demonstrated, and the availability of simulation technology provides new educational opportunities. Early exposure to other medical disciplines has influenced medical student career choice, although this has not been studied in regards to critical care fields. CONCLUSIONS Undergraduate medical education in critical care would be advanced by consolidation and organization into formal curricula. These would teach biomedical and humanistic skills essential to critical care but valuable in all medical settings. Early, well-planned exposure to critical care as a distinct discipline might increase student interest in careers in the field. The effects of educational interventions on the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, and skills as well as long-term career choice should be subjected to rigorous study.