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Clinical Neuroscience in Practice: An Experiential Learning Course for Undergraduates Offered by Neurosurgeons and Neuroscientists

Clinical Neuroscience in Practice: An Experiential Learning Course for Undergraduates Offered by Neurosurgeons and Neuroscientists

Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 16(2): A112-A119

Many pre-health students pursue extracurricular shadowing opportunities to gain clinical experience. The Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience introduced a formal course that provides a clinical experience superior to that received by many medical students. This course is composed of weekly 75-minute seminars that cover diseases affecting the nervous system, their diagnosis and treatment, complemented by weekly half-day intensive clinical experiences with unprecedented access to a team of neurosurgeons (in hospital operating rooms, Intensive Care Units, emergency room, angiographic suites, and wards). In the operating rooms, students routinely "scrub-in" for complex surgeries. On hospital rounds, students experience direct patient care and receive in-depth exposure to modern nervous system imaging. Students participate in two 24-hour "on-call" experiences with team providers. After call, students participate in cognitive and psychological studies to assess physiological and psychological effects of call-related sleep deprivation. Students prepare weekly essays on challenging socioeconomic and ethical questions, exploring subjects such as the cost of medicine and inequalities in access to health care. Towards the end of the course, students meet with the admission dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion medical school; they prepare a personal statement for medical school/graduate school applications, and attend a half-day block of mock medical school/graduate school interviews delivered by experienced clinicians. In lieu of a final exam, each student presents to the entire neurosurgery department, an in-depth clinical analysis of a case in which they participated. We provide details on implementation, challenges and outcomes based on experiences from three semesters with a total enrollment of approximately 60 students.

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Accession: 054769559

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PMID: 30057492

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