By Christin Senior | February 19, 2019 3:20 pm

Keeping medical students on track and identifying students at risk of dropping out may get a bit easier with the help of technology and old-fashioned growth charts, according to two new research papers published by Dr. Juan Cendan, chair of the department of medical education. His research has earned him two distinguished awards and publications in the top-ranking journal Academic Medicine.

Dr. Cendan received a Best Research Paper Award from the International Association For Medical Education (AMEE) for a paper outlining a model he designed to identify medical students at risk for academic interruptions – that is, having to repeat a course, repeat a year or academic dismissal.

Using a model based on growth curves, the type you’ve probably seen at a pediatrician’s office, Dr. Cendan created a predictive model that plots students’ exam grades over time, as a way to identify trends in how they were accumulating points from their exams and allowing objective comparison’s to their peers.

“With an 85 percent accuracy rate, the model is proving to be both a sensitive and specific way to identify students that are heading on a downward slope,” Dr. Cendan said. “This is a novel idea of taking what’s really a clinical test and converting it into a scholastic progress test. So as medical educators and physicians, it’s a model that we’re all accustomed to using.”

Dr. Cendan says faculty at medical schools in the U.S. as well as internationally have shown interest in replicating the model.

The second award was a “Top Investigators” award from the American Association of Medical Colleges for his research on a mobile phone app used to monitor and capture breaches and moments worthy of commendation in professionalism among medical students.

Dr. Cendan and his research team designed the app, called Promobes, with assistance from an IMAP-Macy Foundation grant and support from Dr. Richard Peppler, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs at the College of Medicine.  The app is to be used by faculty members to assess medical students on punctuality, conduct, communication and other aspects of professionalism important for clinicians.

“So if a student does something that’s inappropriate, for example, such as being inappropriately dressed for clinic or being late every day, the faculty member can go on this app, which has a database of all students, find the student on the app and input those inappropriate behaviors,” Dr. Cendan said. The system formats the information so that faculty and students can learn from, and react to the information in a formative manner – for improvement – as well as a way to capture kudos and moments of professional excellence.

Depending on the event, and the context, the information may become part of the student’s record. Dr. Cendan says other medical schools have expressed interest in the app and future studies will be done to assess the app’s effectiveness.

Dr. Cendan says the awards and publications in the highly influential Academic Medicine journal reflect the excellent work being done at the College of Medicine.

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