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Vol 64, No 4 (2013)
Original article
Published online: 2013-12-17

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Evaluation of the educational impact of a special study module on maritime medicine for medical undergraduate students

Nora McCarthy, Siun O’Flynn, John Murphy, David Barry, Maria Luisa Canals
DOI: 10.5603/IMH.2013.0004
IMH 2013;64(4):195-201.


Background: The hazardous occupation of seafaring brings many unique medical challenges. Despite its international nature, maritime medicine does not typically form a part of undergraduate medical studies. A unique and innovative, optional student-selected module (SSM) ‘maritime medicine’ was offered to medical students. A key objective was to develop students’ attitudes to maritime medicine and increase their awareness of the discipline and its specialised nature.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess qualitatively and quantitatively the educational impact of the maritime medicine SSM and to improve the module content and design for future academic years.

Materials and methods: Students’ perceived relevance and knowledge before and after the module was assessed using a Likert-based questionnaire. Comparison was made with controls in the post module100 multiple choice question (MCQ) paper. Qualitative feedback was obtained from semi-structured focus student discussion groups and the questionnaire’s free comments section.

Results: A significant increase in perceived knowledge was seen between pre and post module p < 3.45 × 10–10, matched with the module students performing significantly better than controls in the end-of-module MCQ paper (p < 8.99 × 10–20). Qualitative analysis revealed 5 main themes: teaching methods, appreciation of non-academic instructors, appreciation of maritime medicine unique requirements, timetabling and enjoyment.

Conclusions: This unique and innovative maritime medicine module harnessed local expertise and raised the awareness and profile of maritime medicine among undergraduate medical students. It was very well received and had a significant educational impact. Practical teaching methods were highly valued by students, with these areas also performing best in quantitative analysis.

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