The purpose of this research is to explore medical students’ knowledge of and interest in telemedicine services in urban and rural communities. In the past, medical students reported feeling unprepared to use telemedicine and uninformed about laws regarding telemedicine usage following graduation. However, they also reported that telemedicine training is relevant and important for their future work.
Study participants included medical students taking part in a 2-day telemedicine education program in 2018 and 2019. The first day included a faculty seminar where students were introduced to telemedicine by experts in telemedicine innovations. The second day was a simulation (SIM) day where medical students completed a rotation at the Avera eCARE virtual hospital hub. A survey was given prior to the faculty seminar and readministered following the SIM day. Questions were asked about telemedicine knowledge, curriculum, and willingness to practice via telemedicine.
Chi-square analysis was used to look for associations pre/post by year. Both years showed an increase in favorable responses for questions to telemedicine training and education. For analyses by topic area, we created clusters of questions to build scores. T-tests were used to look for associations pre/post by year. The analysis resulted in three topic areas to build scores. Both years showed a significant increase in Rating of Overall Knowledge and Interest in Curriculum and Utilization. There was no significant difference in Willingness to Practice.
Results show notable differences in how students perceive and understand telemedicine after structured exposure to telemedicine services. Furthermore, this study demonstrates students’ need for and interest in more telemedicine training opportunities in their curriculum. There was no significant difference in the willingness to practice in rural settings. Future studies may focus on how telemedicine training is perceived by those more willing to work in rural communities.