Medical history plays a foundational role in shaping the characters and habits of thought of developing physicians. Specifically, it cultivates an ability to assess the quality and durability of current knowledge and contributes to the growth of resilience, humility and intellectual curiosity. Especially for Infectious Diseases, knowledge of its history fosters an appreciation for our evolving understanding of the field and an opportunity to spark interest in a future career. Nevertheless, it is hard to find the space for this content amidst competing priorities in the medical school curriculum. An integrative approach has been described as a way to introduce history as a longitudinal component of the existing curriculum. Our aim, using this approach, was to pilot the incorporation of history modules into the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (Micro/ID) course at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Students participating in Micro/ID were shown four history modules integrated into the existing course. The first was embedded within the introductory lecture and the remaining three were pre-recorded videos available through the virtual learning environment. The modules offered context to course material and introduced principles of medical history, such as the potential pitfalls of retrospective diagnosis and changing definitions of disease over time. Comprehension and retention were assessed via two questions on each of two exams. Students had the opportunity to evaluate the course material in both their exam and end-of-course evaluations.
On the first exam, 99% and 68% of students answered correctly. On the second exam, 92% and 54% answered correctly. Student evaluation of the content was positive overall with 91% rating the content satisfactory, very good or excellent. However, some questioned the value of the material while others requested expansion of the modules to include topics such as history of research ethics (Tuskegee and syphilis) and more recent history (the HIV epidemic).
An integrative approach to teaching medical history is largely well-received by students and offers a way to introduce historical topics to an entire class. Comments from students serve as a guide to topics of interest for future iterations of the course.
L. A. Pirofski, None