Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University
Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Center for Research in Medical Education & Health Care

Program Evaluation

Our researchers work with faculty on the measurement of the achievement of education goals and student proficiency.


Collaboration continued with medical college fac­ulty, particularly those who use the Rector Clinical Simulation Center to analyze students' clinical assessments in preclinical courses, clinical clerkships and the comprehensive third-year Objective Structured Clinical Examination. These studies included research related to methods of measuring clinical performance, simulated patients’ ratings of students’ empathy and the students’ self-reported empathy and self-assessment.

Completed Studies

Enhancing Student Empathy When Using Electronic Medical Records in Patient Care: This study during the pediatrics clerkship was designed to find out whether training in the use of electronic medical records (EMR) could enhance students’ empathetic engagement with patients. The intervention group received a training session on EMRs, including the SALTED technique (Set-up, Ask, Listen, Type, Exceptions, Documentation).  Faculty and standardized patients rated the students’ performance and empathetic engagement during simulated encounters using the Jefferson Scale of Patient Perceptions of Physician Empathy. Students that received training were rated higher by faculty compared to students with no training.  The findings, which supported use of the brief training session in the clerkship, were published in Academic Medicine.

Medical School Anatomy Workshops for High School Students Enhance Learning, Model Professionalism, and Provide Inspiration for Careers in Medicine: “Anatomy Workshop” is a cadaver-based outreach program that models medical education to large groups of high school students. This study was designed to evaluate the impact of this program on students’ knowledge of anatomy and interest in biomedical science. A post-workshop survey was administered to solicit reflections and feedback. It was found that student performance on the post-workshop examination significantly improved when compared to performance on the pre-examination, indicating that this program enhances learning. Students were also inspired to consider opportunities in medicine and allied health professions. Faculty and medical/graduate student-instructors were also highly regarded by the high school students. In summary, this study demonstrated that outreach programs provided by medical schools help young adults during their formative years by modeling professionalism, providing role models, enhancing learning, and encouraging many to consider opportunities in the health professions.  In press, Academic Pathology.

Effects of a Brief Curricular Intervention on Students’ Attitudes towards Patients with Disabilities:   This study sought to evaluate the effects of a brief curricular intervention on medical students’ attitudes towards physical disability in healthcare settings. Students participated in a focused curriculum about people with disabilities (PWDs). They were surveyed and their attitudes towards PWDs in healthcare settings were compared to those of students who did not undergo the intervention using the Disability Attitudes in Health Care scale (DAHC). The intervention group responded with significantly more positive attitudes on 6 of the 17 items on the DAHC, and multiple linear regression analysis confirmed the independent effect of the curriculum on higher DAHC scores. Previous experiences with PWDs did not correlate to higher attitude scores. These results suggest that a brief curricular intervention on disability can engender more positive attitudes in medical students towards PWDs. In press, American Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Social Network Analysis

Center faculty worked with the Dean and the Alumni Office to develop a social network analysis of the senior class in order to provide an empirical base for the selection of class agents at graduation. A unique survey was developed to model students connections with their classmates.

Completed Study

Predicting Peer Nominations Among Medical Students: A Social Network Approach:  Focusing on the homophily principle (“birds of a feather tend to flock together”) and utilizing a social network analysis approach, this study explored how certain student- and/or school-based factors predict the likelihood of peer nomination, and the clusters, if any, that occur among those nominations. In 2013, the Jefferson Longitudinal Study of Medical Education included a special instrument to evaluate peer nominations. Data were analyzed using a relational contingency table and an ANOVA density model. Although peer nominations did not cluster around gender, age, or class rank, those students within the Penn State accelerated program, as well as those entering certain specialties, were more likely to nominate each other. The authors suggest that clerkships, as well as the accelerated program, may provide structured opportunities for students to connect and integrate, and that these opportunities have an impact on peer-nomination. The findings suggest that social network analysis is a useful approach to examine various aspects of peer nomination processes. Academic Medicine. 2016; 91(6):847-852. 

Class Ranking System

The change from numeric grades to the honors/pass/fail grading system over a decade ago called for new approaches to calculating class ranks. To aid in the calculation of class ranks, center faculty have provided psychometric support to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for the selection of students to the AOA honor society and the summative rank for deans’ letters. Center faculty are also helping to develop new ranking models for the JeffMD curriculum.

Evaluation of Clerkships at Affiliated Hospitals

Center staff provided periodic reports to the Curriculum Committee, Dean’s Office, departments and affiliated hospitals to assess the quality of the educational program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and affiliated hospitals. Established in 1982, the clerkship database includes students’ reports of their experiences at each site, satisfaction with their education, scores on written examinations, faculty ratings of the students’ clinical performance and student reports of the clerkships’ impact on their career plans.