Increases in knowledge and use of information technology by entering medical students at McMaster University in successive annual surveys. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: To determine self-reported microcomputer and information technology competency, access, and usage by entering medical students and their perceptions of the need for training in additional applications. DESIGN: Cross-sectional surveys of successive classes. SETTING: McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences Medical Undergraduate Program, which has a 33-month, problem-based, self-directed learning curriculum and a high applicant-to-student ratio. PARTICIPANTS: Medical school classes entering in 1987, 1988, and 1989. Response rates were 80%, 90%, and 86% respectively. MEASURES: A self-report questionnaire was sent to each student, with up to two follow-up letters to prompt a response. RESULTS: There was a progressive rise in reported information technology access and use for the three years. For the classes starting in 1987, '88, and '89 respectively, computer access was 29%, 49%, and 49% (P < 0.002 for linear trend), and, among those with computer access, modem access was 17%, 29% and 50% (P = 0.012). Self-service MEDLINE use on CD-ROM at the Health Sciences Library was 65%, 75%, and 89% respectively (P < 0.001) for all respondents within the first few months of starting medical school. Over 50% of each class stated they would take courses, if available, on clinical applications software, office management, online searching, filing, and CD-ROM searching. CONCLUSIONS: Half of the most recent entering students already had access to a personal computer and most wished to learn computer applications that would assist them with patient management, and with information access and organization. Medical schools need to address which applications they will teach or make available and how to bring all students to acceptable competency in their use.

publication date

  • 1992