Context: Traditional medical education is shifting to incorporate learning technologies and online educational activities with traditional face-to-face clinical instruction to engage students, especially at remote clinical training sites. Objective: To describe and evaluate the effectiveness of the blended learning format (combining online and face-to-face instruction) for third-year osteopathic medical students during their pediatric rotation. Methods: Third-year medical students who completed the 4-week clerkship in pediatrics during the 2014-2015 academic year were divided into a standard learning group and a blended learning group with online activities (discussion boards, blogs, virtual patient encounters, narrated video presentations, and online training modules). Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Achievement Test scores and final course grades were compared between the standard learning and blended learning groups. Students in the blended learning group completed a postsurvey regarding their experiences. Results: Of 264 third-year students who completed the 4-week clerkship in pediatrics during the 2014-2015 academic year, 78 (29.5%) participated in the blended learning supplement with online activities. Of 53 students who completed the postsurvey in the blended learning group, 44 (83.0%) agreed or strongly agreed that “The integration of e-learning and face-to-face learning helped me learn pediatrics.” Open-ended comments supported this overall satisfaction with the course format; however, 26 of 100 comments reflected a desire to increase the amount of clinical exposure and face-to-face time with patients. No statistical differences were seen between the standard learning (n=186) and blended learning (n=78) groups with regard to Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Achievement Test scores (P=.321). Compared with the standard learning group, more students in the blended learning group received a final course grade of honors (P=.015). Conclusion: Results of this study support the use of blended learning in a clinical training environment. As more medical educators use blended learning, it is important to investigate the best balance between learning with technology and learning in a face-to-face setting. Online activities may enhance but should never fully replace face-to-face learning with real patients.
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