Simulation PACS in med school curriculum increases student confidence

The large difference between learning about something and applying it to real-world situations is a truth that extends to high-risk profession of medicine.

Experts say that medical undergraduate education lacks in simulation-based curriculum and is behind other professions that are risky in nature.

In a recent study published by JACR, a team of researchers from the University of Colorado and Philips Healthcare Analytics and Radiology Solutions evaluated the effectiveness of implementing a vendor-specific picture archiving and communication system (PACS) application into simulation-based curriculum in undergraduate medical education.  

This simulation PACS was developed in collaboration with Philips Healthcare, according to the study, and specifically allowed the tested group of medical students to use a viewer application as a part of their curriculum. Tools available to students included measurements, window and leveling capacities, comparison with prior images, enterprise image access and zero footprint viewing.  

"Fictionalized patient names and medical records are displayed on the TPACS work list, and students review these cases in teams," said lead author Nicole Restauri, MD, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "The curriculum requires learners to interpret radiologic examinations while answering a series of related questions on pathophysiology, imaging utilization, and patient safety."  

According to Restauri and her team, image transfer to the PACS is an easy process and is used in all four years of medical student education. Essentially, PACS is used to facilitate small interactive group learning and is a required component of learning about surgery, internal medicine, neurology and women's care clerkships in the third year of medical school.  

Restauri explained that PACS allows medical students to review cases that relate to the content they will need to master during clinical clerkships, use voice recognition technology as they would professionally in the field, view stacked imaging examinations, and have all data and images accessible through the Internet.  

"Increased confidence using PACS is a skill directly transferable to achieving competency in systems-based practice and has the potential to translate to safer and more cost-effective patient care," Restauri said.  

At the end of the 2015 and 2016 academic years, a selected group of medical students were asked to take a survey assessing their confidence in imaging before and after they used TPACS. A total of 159 students took the survey in 2015 and 116 students in 2016.  

According to survey results, medical students reported statistically significant confidence improvement in 2016 compared in 2015. Results showed a 60 percent increase from 2015 to 2016 in the medical students claiming to be confident they could use PACS to interpret radiology imaging.