Introduction: Videoconferencing has been employed in numerous medical education settings ranging from remote supervision of medical trainees to conducting residency interviews. However, no studies have yet documented the utility of and student response to videoconference meetings for mid-clerkship feedback (MCF) sessions required by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).
Methods: From March 2017 to June 2018, third-year medical students rotating through the mandatory, four-week emergency medicine (EM) clerkship at a single medical school were randomly assigned either to a web-based videoconference meeting via Google Hangouts, or to a traditional in-person meeting for their MCF session. To compare students’ MCF experiences we sent out an electronic survey afterward to assess the following using a 0-100 sliding scale: overall satisfaction with the meeting; the effectiveness of communication; the helpfulness of the meeting; their stress levels, and the convenience of their meeting location. The survey also collected data on these demographic variables: the name of the faculty member with whom the student met; student gender, age, and interest in EM; location prior to meeting; meeting-method preference; and number of EM shifts completed.
Results: During the study period, 133 third-year medical students responded to the survey. When comparing survey responses between individuals who met online and in person, we did not detect a difference in demographics with the exception of preferred meeting method (p=0.0225). We found no significant differences in the overall experience, helpfulness of the meeting, or stress levels of the meeting between those who met via videoconference vs. in-person (p=0.9909; p=0.8420; p=0.2352, respectively). However, individuals who met in-person with a faculty member rated effectiveness of communication higher than those who met via videoconference (p=0.0002), while those who met online rated convenience higher than those who met in-person (p<0.0001). Both effects remained significant after controlling for preferred meeting method (p<0.0001 and p=0.0003, respectively) and among EM-bound students (p=.0423 and p<0.0110, respectively).
Conclusion: Our results suggest that LCME-required MCF sessions can be successfully conducted via web-based programs such as Google Hangouts without jeopardizing overall meeting experience. While the convenience of the meetings was improved, it is also important for clerkship directors to note the perceived deficit in the effectiveness of communication with videoconferencing.