Flipped classroom enhances learning outcomes in medical certificate education

The quality of medical certificates written by students of medicine was better when they were taught by using the flipped classroom approach instead of traditional lecturing. A randomly selected student from the flipped classroom group had an 85% probability to receive a better total score than a student from the traditional teaching group, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. 

One of the goals of medial training is to provide students with good skills in writing medical certificates and medical statements. In Finland, permanent residents are covered by social security insurance administered by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. In accordance with this social security scheme, patients with certain illnesses are entitled to special reimbursement of their medical costs. The procedure for obtaining this entitlement is initiated by a medical certificate written by the treating doctor. Hence, doctors must have good certificate writing skills and knowledge of the content and goals of the insurance scheme. 

Nowadays, medical education is increasingly geared towards methods that activate students, such as flipped learning in which students prepare for classes by, for example, viewing video materials in advance. The effects of flipped learning on medical certificate education hasn’t been studied much before. 

The study compared the writing skill scores of students attending traditional lectures and students participating in flipped classroom teaching in medical certificate education. In medical education offered in Finland, skills in medical certificate writing are taught to fourth-year students as part of a more extensive introductory course in general practice. In 2015, teaching was delivered through traditional lectures. In 2016, the flipped classroom approach was used, and students familiarised themselves with video materials independently before each class. In both years, students used the same background material to write a medical certificate on the entitlement of a fictional patient to special reimbursement of diabetes medication. A random sample of 40 students from each year was selected for analysis, and two experts assessed the students’ statements by giving scores to different sections.

The findings were published in BMC Medical Education. 

For further information, please contact: 

Clinical Lecturer Nina Tusa, University of Eastern Finland, nina.tusa(at)uef.fi, tel. +358 46 922 0643 

Research article: 

Medical certificate education: controlled study between lectures and flipped classroom. Nina Tusa, Erkko Sointu, Helena Kastarinen, Teemu Valtonen, Anna Kaasinen, Laura Hirsto, Markku Saarelainen, Kati Mäkitalo, Pekka Mäntyselkä. BMC Medical Education 2018, 18:243. Published 24 October 2018. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-018-1351-7 

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The University of Eastern Finland is the most multidisciplinary university in Finland. Our high standard of interdisciplinary research and education respond to global challenges and build a sustainable future. Our research is ranked among the best in the world in several fields. We offer education in nearly 100 major subjects and we train experts for tomorrow’s changing labour market needs. The university comprises four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. Our campuses are located in Joensuu and Kuopio. The UEF is home to approximately 15 500 students and 2 700 members of staff.

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