3 years ago

Computing for Medicine: Can We Prepare Medical Students for the Future?

Law, Marcus, Veinot, Paula, Campbell, Jennifer, Craig, Michelle, Mylopoulos, Maria
Problem: Technology can transform health care; future physicians need to keep pace to ensure optimal patient care. Because future doctors are poorly prepared in computer literacy, the authors designed a computer programming certificate course. This Innovation Report describes the course and findings from a qualitative study to understand the ways it prepares medical students to use computing science and technology in medicine. Approach: The 14-month Computing for Medicine certificate course (C4M, offered beginning in February 2016), University of Toronto, was comprised of hands-on workshops to introduce programming accompanied by homework exercises, seminars by computer science experts on the application of programming to medicine, and coding projects. Using purposive and maximal variation sampling, 17 students who completed the course were interviewed from April–May 2017. Thematic analysis was performed using an iterative constant comparison approach. Outcomes: Participants praised the C4M as an opportunity to achieve computer literacy—including language, syntax, and fundamental computational ideas (and their application to medicine)—and acquire or strengthen algorithmic and logical thinking skills for approaching problems. They highlighted that the course illustrated linkages between computer science and medicine. Participants acknowledged a sometimes existent chasm between producers and users of technology in medicine, recommending two-way communication between the disciplines when developing technology for use in medicine. Next Steps: We recommend medical schools consider computer literacy an essential skill to foster future collaborative computing partnerships for improved technology use by physicians and optimal patient care. We encourage further evaluation of future iterations of the C4M and similar courses. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal. Funding/support: None reported. Other disclosures: None reported. Ethical approval: This project received ethics approval from the University of Toronto Research Ethics Board (protocol reference number #34180). Correspondence should be addressed to Marcus Law, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Medical Sciences Building, 1 King’s College Cr., Room 3157, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada; telephone: 416-978-4543; e-mail: marcus.law@utoronto.ca © 2018 by the Association of American Medical Colleges
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