The revamped MDCM curriculum introduced a few years ago at McGill University includes a change in structure that offers medical students clinical exposure earlier in their studies. While welcomed and appreciated, the earlier timeline created an increased desire among students for more resources that could be used for autonomous learning. “I came up with the idea for CSTAR last year as a first-year medical student wishing there were more opportunities for me to acquire and perfect my skills before entering the clinical setting,” says Eunice You, now in her second year of medical school at McGill.
CSTAR, which stands for Clinical Skills Training and Assessment Room, is a space located within the medical student lounge at the Lady Meredith Annex building that is dedicated to providing students with increased opportunities to acquire and perfect the time-honored skill of patient assessment. Modeled after a standard doctor’s office, the room is outfitted with all of the basic equipment one would find there, from a patient examination table to a wall-mounted diagnostic set, a desk with a computer, a bookshelf and chairs. “We are also working to fill the space with learning resources requested by the student body, from anatomy software to clinical handbooks and flashcards,” says Eunice. In addition to building the space for students to study and hone their skills, the students are using CSTAR to develop a peer-based extracurricular academic program to complement the physical room. “Every block, we have peer-led workshop sessions where we provide presentations on important clinical elements of the block and have students practice both history taking and physical examination skills with cases we create.”
Eunice attributes the success behind CSTAR to the incredible team who spearheaded the project with her. This includes Kenza Rahmouni who manages the project’s funds and Karmin Yu and Jerry Zheng who oversee the construction and maintenance of the physical space. There is also a dedicated team of students who have undertaken the enormous task of creating learning material and running workshops for each block. These are team leader Casey Wang, tutors Jenny Mitchell, Antoine Ricard-Lacombe and Kourosh Lalavi and first-year student reps Shermaine Li and Cassandra Poirier. “There have been many others who have lent their support to the project as well,” adds Eunice, “including the students who volunteer their time to teach at each of our workshop sessions.”
The students were able to launch CSTAR in large part thanks to $8,000 in support from the Medical Students’ Society which continues to support the endeavour. They are looking for other sources of support in order to implement future plans, which include acquiring a portable point-of-care ultrasound machine. Eunice notes that interprofessionalism continues to be something they would like to expand on and mentioned that they are working on creating a workshop for the musculoskeletal block where physiotherapy students would demonstrate the MSK exam to medical students as well as a global health workshop. For now the students are working on creating other practical sessions and lecture series’ and “responding to student requests for whatever training materials they would be interested in having in the room.”
For more information about CSTAR: http://www.mcgillmed.com/c-star/