Having a final product for your specialty track is not a requirement. However, for some students, it’s an ideal way to demonstrate what they learned and how they increased their competence.
Final products can take nearly any form. Some examples include:
- A powerpoint presentation
- A draft of an article submission
- A literature review
- A patient education pamphlet
- An IRB application
- A set of certificates for completing courses, trainings or online modules
- A summary of information learned
- A curriculum, syllabus or other training materials
- A bibliography
- A case report
- A log of procedures or encounter diagnoses
- Patient chart documentation *HIPPA compliant of course
- A website
- A podcast
- A video lecture
- A journal or narrative essay
You can probably imagine other final products. But, if it’s not required, why would you submit one? Here are two reasons:
Show your Competency Growth
The goal of clinical distinction is to increase confidence in the core competencies… another way to say this is to get closer to being the kind of doctor you hope to be someday. But there is a second, purpose to clinical distinction – to demonstrate your capacity for self-reflection, self-direction, and self-management. In order to do this we ask you to draft a contract in which you decide what you want to learn and then make a commitment to it. We ask you to do the work and then, on time, complete a self-evaluation. In this, we ask you to describe any obstacles you encountered and how you think the course went. But there’s one more important feature: your sponsor. Your sponsor’s job, primarily is to be an observer – to watch you go through this process and then write about it. Ideally they will describe your competency growth in their evaluation of you. You might have done a great job describing your experience, but how do they get first hand knowledge of that so that they can enthusiastically evaluate you?
A final product can really help. One memorable final product was part of a course focused on patient care, systems based practice and communication skills. The product was a patient education tool that also helped preceptors know that medical students had been paying attention and learning. It was a single page form that summarized the patient encounter. It was designed to be filled out by the student then used to educate the patient on what the preceptor had suggested in the patient encounter. It could be used for a follow up visit (here’s what we talked about last time, how is it going?) or it could be a take-home sheet for the patient after the visit. In filling it out, the student would have to demonstrate understanding of the management plan and demonstrate good communication skills. It was a simple but elegant form that served multiple purposes, not the least of which was demonstrating competence. The design itself showed a grasp of systems based practice and interpersonal communication skills (IPC). The use of it showed increased competence in patient care and IPC. Later the students did a presentation about their project and submitted a powerpoint. Wow what a specialty track.
One key point about your final product. If your sponsor doesn’t have time to review it, you’ll miss out on that benefit. It’s not a reason not to do the final product but it is a reason to either pick another sponsor or negotiate with your sponsor -for example, if they don’t have time to watch you present your case at grand rounds, do they have time to review your powerpoint slides?
Turn the Nebulous Tangible
Finally, for some students, completing a product can make the experience of doing this course more comprehensible. Setting an end goal of having a product created turns a nebulous process into a concrete plan. Instead of exploring an idea and personal growth (which will be happening), there’s a plan to wrap things up in a way that is tangible. Just make sure that the goal is attainable! (ie draft of a paper, not published paper, 5 completed modules, not 100).
Read more about the final product vs the criteria for passing here.