When medical students were pulled out of clerkship rotations last month, the YSM Office of Education sought new electives for the students to take in their unexpected off time. Librarians Judy Spak, Caitlin Meyer, and Courtney Brombosz quickly developed a proposal: an intensive two-week elective where students would respond in real time to the COVID-19 pandemic by selecting a pandemic-related topic and acquiring, appraising, and synthesizing information as it becomes available.
The proposal was accepted and the first cohort of students completed the class on Monday, April 13th. Over the course of two 20-hour weeks, students learned a wide range of skills that will be useful throughout their clinical and research careers including:
· Foundations of evidence-based medicine
· Articulating focused and answerable research questions
· Constructing search strategies using subject headings and keywords
· Identifying and effectively using medical and interdisciplinary academic databases
· Finding and using research data and grey literature
· Critically appraising evidence of all types
· Distinguishing between review types
· Strategies for organizing, synthesizing, and presenting information
Research topics chosen by the first cohort of students included child maltreatment in times of economic uncertainty and the use of chloroquine for COVID-19 treatment.
The library looks forward to running the elective again this spring.