Although teleconsultations have been used for many years in Australia, there has been a recent increase following new government incentives. There is a paucity of literature on enabling medical students to acquire the relevant skills. With a focus on equipping students for practice in rural and remote areas, our medical school has developed an innovative clinical skills lesson to prepare our students for their rural practice placements.
This lesson was delivered to all students in their third year of training in small groups to enable interactive learning. The objectives of the lesson were to familiarise students with: the various methods of conducting teleconsultations currently in use; the legal and ethical considerations; the technical and procedural issues; and the barriers and benefits for patients and doctors. Students rotated through four different stations over 2 hours and the lesson was evaluated using a student survey.
Medical students self-reported statistically significant improvements in understanding the issues and procedures, and in confidence in conducting a telehealth consultation.
Analysis of the results and student comments demonstrated that students recognise the value of telemedicine learning, and benefit from formal teaching on all aspects of telemedicine, including technology, ethics and protocols. Interestingly, the students found the opportunity to discuss areas such as the ethics of, and barriers to, the use of teleconsultations to be the most challenging and helpful of all of the stations.