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Purpose: The purpose of this research study is to explore medical student knowledge of and interest in telemedicine services in urban and rural communities. In the past, medical students have reported feeling unprepared to use telemedicine and uninformed about laws regarding telemedicine usage following graduation. However, they also reported that telemedicine training is relevant and important for their future work.
Methods: Study participants included medical students taking part in a two day telemedicine education program in 2018 and 2019. The first day includes a faculty seminar where students are introduced to telemedicine by experts in telemedicine innovations. The second day is a simulation day (SIM) where medical students complete a rotation at the Avera eCARE virtual hospital hub. A survey was given prior to the faculty seminar and re-administered following the SIM day. Questions asked about telemedicine knowledge, curriculum, and willingness to practice via telemedicine.
Results: A Chi-square analysis was used to look for associations’ pre/post by year. Both years show an increase in favorable responses for questions to telemedicine training and education. For analyses by topic area, we created clusters of questions to build scores. T-tests were used to look for associations’ pre/post by year. The analysis resulted in three topic areas to build scores. Both years show a significant increase in both Rating of Overall Knowledge and Interest in Curriculum and Utilization. There is no significant difference in Willingness to Practice.
Conclusions: Results show notable differences in how students perceive and understand telemedicine after structured exposure to telemedicine services. Further, this study demonstrates students' need for and interest in more telemedicine training opportunities in their curriculum. Results demonstrate no significant difference in the willingness to practice in rural settings. Future studies may focus on how telemedicine training is perceived by those more willing to work in rural communities.
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