June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.7.1 - 12.7.28
54 Undergraduate Students Obtain Clinical Experiential Education as Participants in Biomedical Engineering Research Author Block: Vikki Hazelwood, Arthur Ritter Biomedical Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ.
Objective: To implement an effective experiential education research project designed to educate undergraduate students about the human clinical trial research process, while it enhances their understanding of healthy fitness habits.
Background: Experiential education has been demonstrated to be effective in medical and nursing schools. In biomedical engineering, research and clinical care are inextricably linked. Nonetheless, opportunities for undergraduate biomedical engineering students to participate in clinical research are limited, and in most cases, offer only individual training. This experience is particularly challenging to offer in engineering schools that do not have medical school affiliations. It was hypothesized that a motivating experiential education research project, in the context of a human clinical trial, could be conducted at an engineering school. The focus of the investigation involves the prevention of obesity, clearly an educational challenge. Students participating in an experiential educational research program regarding obesity prevention could effectively learn about clinical research while enhancing their personal fitness habits.
Methods: 74 undergraduate college students age 18-22 were recruited as volunteer subjects and studied for one year. Six students also participated as part time research assistants. The study was approved by the IRB. Informed consent was obtained, and a sports medicine physician screened the health histories prior to participation. Upon recruitment, small group informational sessions were held to introduce each student to methods of proper execution of a clinical trial. Topics included recruitment, informed consent, HIPAA, and health history. Aspects of proper clinical research procedures were re-enforced on an individual basis during each evaluation. Participants were given an opportunity to ask questions at any time during the study. A fitness evaluation was performed at 4 designated intervals. During this period, the subjects reported their current fitness habits as compared to their habits prior to their participation in the study. An exit survey regarding the educational experience was performed. The survey included a quiz to assess student learning.
Results: Fifty-four subjects were retained through the end of the study. At least two of the graduating participants have received job offers in clinical research with biomedical companies; one student felt the experience helped him gain entry into medical school. Participants performed well on the quiz and reported favorably regarding the experience.
Conclusion: Training effectiveness was reflected in the exit survey results, job offers and graduate school opportunities for students, and student conduct. Student motivation is reflected in the self reported gain in interest and confidence in clinical research, in the low attrition rate, and in the increased activity levels of all groups.
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