Med Educ. 2021 Aug 25. doi: 10.1111/medu.14623. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Although much has been written about the medical learning environment, the patient, who is the focus of care, is rarely the focus in this literature. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of the patient as an active participant with agency in the medical learning environment from the standpoint of the learner, the attending physician, and most importantly, the patient. We hoped to gain insights into the mechanisms that can reinforce professional values such as patient-centred and respectful behaviours in a patient-present learning environment.
METHODS: We conducted this study in an ambulatory internal medicine clinic using “patient-present” clinic visits. All case presentations occurred in examination rooms with the patient. We invited participants (attending physicians, undergraduate and postgraduate learners, patients and family members) to participate in semi-structured interviews after each clinic visit to explore the impact of the patient-present learning environment. We recruited 34 participants in the study; 10 attending physicians, 12 learners, 10 patients and 2 family members. We analyzed the data deductively using a conceptual framework of agency.
SUMMARY/RESULTS: We identified three major insights: 1. Patients felt engaged and valued opportunities to be heard; 2. Attending physicians and learners reported a more respectful learning environment and a positive though challenging teaching and learning experience; and 3. A hidden curriculum emerged in a performance-based view of professional behaviour.
CONCLUSIONS: Patient-present teaching engaged patients and enhanced their agency by recasting the patient as the central focus within the healthcare encounter. We identified a tension between performing and learning. This study adds new insights to the concept of patient centredness and professionalism from the perspectives of all participants in the medical teaching and learning environment.
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