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Med Teach. 2018 Mar 8:1-8. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2018.1444745. [Epub ahead of print]

Trusting early learners with critical professional activities through emergency medical technician certification.

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a Department of Science Education , Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell , Hempstead , NY , USA.
b Centre for Research and Development of Education , University Medical Centre Utrecht , Utrecht , The Netherlands.



Two dominant themes face medical education: developing integrated curricula and improving the undergraduate medical education (UME) to graduate medical education (GME) transition. An innovative solution to both of these challenges at the Zucker School of Medicine has been the application of the cognitive apprenticeship framework in requiring emergency medical technician (EMT) certification during the first course in medical school as the core on which to build an integrated curriculum and provide entrustable clinical skills.


Beginning with the Class of 2011, student feedback about the short-term impact of the experience was collected annually. In addition, perceptions of near graduates and alumni were surveyed in 2017 to explore the long-term impact of the experience. Theme analysis was conducted via inductive coding.


Both first-year and more experienced learners report the value of the EMT curriculum as an integrated component of the first course of medical school. Reported positive long-term impacts included the first-hand observation of social determinants of health and interprofessionalism. Negative comments by early learners focused on course logistics, whereas older learners recalled the variability of clinical experiences during ambulance runs.


The integration of the EMT curriculum as a core component of the first course serves multiple purposes: 1) it provides the foundation of a spiral learning approach; 2) it contextualizes the basic sciences within clinical practice; 3) it provides opportunities for students to engage in authentic clinical activities under the guidance of mentors; 4) it introduces students to the interdisciplinary nature of medicine; and 5) it serves as the first entrustable professional activity (EPA) for our students.

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