Student perceptions on the introduction of training in diagnostic laboratory techniques in an African school of medicine (Published 2015)
Apr 06, 2016
Mimano L.N, Ferrari G, Kapanda G, Lisasi E, Kulanga A, Nyombi B, Muiruri C, Kessi E, Bartlett J and Ntabaye M
Diagnostic laboratory support is a critical component of successfully addressing the challenges posed by high rates of communicable and non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this study was to explore the value of teaching students diagnostic laboratory techniques.
Introduction: Laboratory infrastructure and expertise are lacking in sub-Saharan Africa. Historically medical students have not received formal instruction in the use of diagnostic laboratory techniques. Medical students were taught a core competency course that included laboratory safety, sample collection, processing and handling, microscopy and the use of rapid diagnostic tests. Training complemented topics covered in their didactic course work, and varied according to their medical school class year.
Methods: A wet laboratory was created and equipped with an audiovisual (AV) system. A questionnaire using a 5-point Likert scale was developed to evaluate student perceptions in four domains; Knowledge/skills gained, Course content, Instructor and AV system aspects. Data was collected over 2 months from medical students in years 1, 2 & 4, analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17.0, and the mean scores and the strength of consensus measure (sCns) were calculated.
Evaluation: 221 students (53 MD1, 110 MD2, and 58 MD3) participated in the survey. Overall, student perception scores were highly positive with a high sCns. The mean scores ranged from 3.9 to 4.7, and the strength of consensus measure exceeded 80% in 12/13 variables measured.
Conclusion: Student perceptions were very positive with a high sCns.
I very much enjoyed reading this paper and I believe it re-activates our thoughts on curriculum construction and appropriateness. I believe that the messages it gives are severalfold:
a) Curricula are static, they are dynamic, and should be under constant review and modification
b) Although there are strong core elements within a curriculum, the added elements should be very much responsive to regional / national need and influenced by the environment
c) What is seen as unnecessary in certain curricula ( why should students learn such skills- we think they are a waste of time!) can be essential in others
d) When we add these skills to a curriculum there is a need to keep up to date with new advances, new technology and to ensure that the students are as competent in them as required
I hope that the authors will continue to advance this course, and most importantly to extend their evaluation into the trained workforce to measure the real effect upon healthcare.