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Flipped Classrooms

Posted on Tue, Jun 02, 2015
Flipped Classrooms

Technology is having an impact on medical education. 
 
Smartphones have become almost ubiquitous in today’s world.  You can talk on the phone, send a text, look at your twitter account (@adamcorley if you were wondering), and some of you may even be reading this newspaper on your phone or tablet computer.   To say that a smartphone or tablet offers you access to the sum total of human knowledge is a bit of a stretch but you can find just about any piece of information that you search for.
 
With computers, smartphones, and tablets changing the way we access information and the volume of medical knowledge growing at an exponential rate, medical education and probably education in general is taking a very interesting and potentially beneficial turn towards something called a flipped classroom.
 
The term flipped classroom is meant to imply that the portion of learning traditionally done in the classroom is completed as self study and the portion traditionally viewed as homework or self study is done in the classroom. 
 
In flipped classrooms or flipped teaching, students generally learn the basics of the topic on their own by watching videos, podcasts, or online presentations.  Then, the classroom portion is focused on applying the knowledge, problem solving, coaching, and practical work.
 
Medical school, residency (post-graduate medical education), and continuing medical education venues have all been experimenting with the flipped classroom. 
 
In their widely sited article in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Charles Prober and Dr. Chip Heath discuss their thoughts and experiences with flipped teaching in medical school.  They ask “why would anyone waste precious class time on a lecture” when we live in an era “with the perfect video platform – one that serves up billions of YouTube views and millions of TED Talks on such things as technology, entertainment, and design”.
 
Prober and Heath relate their experience with flipped teaching in biochemistry at Stanford Medical School.  In their experiment, the proportion of positive class reviews went up substantially and the class attendance went up from around 30% to around 80% even though class was not mandatory.
 
A recent journal article also supports the flipped classroom model for post-graduate education in anesthesiology.  A quick online search finds Yale School of Medicine’s website using flipped teaching techniques for their anesthesiology residents.
 
Continuing education in healthcare and medicine is undergoing a digital revolution as well.  Online learning, twitter hashtags linking to medical education, and podcasts have become extremely popular in recent years.
 
Dr. Chris Nickson, an online blogger, discusses a common criticism of online continuing medical education – the lack of peer review.  He points out the flaws of peer review and notes that prominent podcaster Dr. Scott Weingart believes that the “post production peer review that he receives on his podcasts exceeds the rigor of that received by his traditional scientific publications”.
 
Prober and Heath make an excellent point by commenting that since “the hours available in a day have not increased to accommodate the expanded medical canon, we have only one realistic alternative:  make better use of our student’s time”.  The flipped classroom and non-traditional medical learning seem to do a good job of accomplishing this goal.

 Dr. Adam Corley is a practicing emergency physician with more than 10 years of clinical and leadership experience.  Dr. Corley currently serves as a Divisional Vice President for the West Division.   He is also the medical director for emergency services at Palestine Regional Medical Center and also serves as the medical director for several EMS services and the Anderson Co. Texas Sheriff’s Dept.  Dr. Corley lectures and writes on a variety of topics including decision science and behavioral economics, management of disruptive behavior in healthcare, conflict resolution, and healthcare leadership.  He writes a biweekly opinion column that focuses on the intersection of libertarian politics and healthcare.  He and his daughter live in Tyler, Tx.

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