If there are any fields of study that prepare students to do ‘real world’ scientific work, you’d hope medicine would be one.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Authentic course experiences, however, equip students for practical, real-time situations in their respective fields. The good news? A recent study, published in the Journal of Chemical Education, indicates that authentic course experiences are within reach.

A simple restructuring exercise implemented in a chemistry lab course resulted in more authentic learning experiences….

…So how can instructors, departments and institutions generate this outcome in courses crucial to the development of capable medical professionals? Providing students with authentic learning tools is a great place to start.

In this study, a chemistry course was “redesigned to implement more authentic activities in the curriculum, largely through the use of an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN)”. LabArchives was the selected ELN.

After conducting the course with an ELN rather than traditional paper notebooks, “the authenticity of the course improvements was reviewed by a panel of practicing nurses and nursing faculty”.

You can check out the full study below. But if you don’t have time to give it an in-depth read, here’s a quick summary:

  • Panel participants who evaluated improvements to the course included practicing nurses and nursing faculty.
  • The panel agreed that the use of LabArchives was more in line with current healthcare practices than the use of paper notebooks. 
  • Panelists agreed that “it is necessary for students to know how to document information electronically and the use of LabArchives is contributing to that ability.”
  • Panelists felt LabArchives modules relate more closely to EHRs used in the clinical setting than traditional lab notebooks.
  • The use of LabArchives was unanimously seen as a move towards greater authenticity in pre-health curriculum.
  • The panel agreed that authentic changes in curriculum were a “great improvement” for healthcare professionals.

Authenticity in medical lab courses creates the potential for better prepared students, better professionals and better healthcare.

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