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BMC Med Educ. 2022 Mar 4;22(1):143. doi: 10.1186/s12909-022-03194-0.
BACKGROUND: The number of hours devoted to ophthalmology in medical schools is low and declining. Extracurricular activities in ophthalmology, such as participation in community eye screenings, can play an important complementary role in medical school curricula. Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) Vision Screening In Our Neighborhoods (ViSION) program is an example of a voluntary community service-learning program run by medical students.
Methods: We used a cross-sectional mixed-methods approach, including an online survey and semi-structured interviews. JHU School of Medicine students enrolled in MD or MD/PhD programs during the 2019-2020 academic year were surveyed on demographics, career and service interests, participation in related activities to ophthalmology and confidence in their ophthalmology-related skills. Survey responses were compared between ViSION volunteers and non-volunteers using Fisher’s exact chi-square tests. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via web conference with 8 former or current ViSION volunteers and responses were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Data was collected when ViSION volunteers were at varying stages of their medical training and participation in the ViSION program.
RESULTS: A total of 118 medical students were included, representing an overall response rate of 24.6% of JHU medical students. ViSION volunteers reported greater involvement in ophthalmology-related research (42% vs 4%, p
CONCLUSIONS: Medical students who volunteered for a student-led community vision screening program were more likely to have a prior interest in ophthalmology than those who did not volunteer, but only 1 /3 of volunteers planned to pursue a career in ophthalmology. Overall, volunteers reported greater confidence in performing clinical skills related to ophthalmology, suggesting that community-based, student-led vision screening programs may be an important way for medical students to explore the public health aspects of ophthalmology, while practicing ophthalmology examination skills and learning about common ophthalmic pathologies, regardless of their career intentions.