Objectives: This active learning experience was designed to enhance the information literacy knowledge and skills of medical students for patient-centered, evidence-based decisions at the point of care. It includes formulating clinical questions using patient/problem, intervention, comparison, outcome (PICO), accessing the highest level of evidence-based medicine (EBM) information available in an effective manner, and evaluating the information in relation to a specific patient in an outpatient setting.

Methods: Third-year medical students participate in a small-group collaborative, patient-centered learning experience during the family medicine clerkship, coordinated by the clerkship directors with participation by two medical librarians. At orientation, the clerkship directors provide the students with an overview of the evidence-based process and creating PICO questions. Librarians then direct a hands-on instruction session covering evidence-based resources and search strategies for finding point-of-care EBM information. Students select a clinical question from a patient encounter in their outpatient clinics. Each student submits a worksheet providing the PICO question, resources consulted, search strategy, selected bibliographic references, and clinical recommendations for their patient. Librarians provide a written assessment and suggestions for improvement relative to the students' search strategies and resource selections. Students then present their patient clinical question, research, and recommendations to the clinical faculty and student group.

Results: In the most recent 6 months of this course, 85% of the 55 students participating were rated as “competent” in the areas of resource selection and literature searching on their EBM assignment. Pre- and post-tests results indicate that a majority of the students had an increased familiarity with and appreciation of key evidence-based medicine resources such as Cochrane Reviews, ACP PIER, and FPIN after completing the EBM assignment. Student evaluations reflect increased interest and value in EBM through this experience.

Conclusion: Providing an active learning, patient-centered experience with collaboration between clinical faculty and medical librarians has been successful in improving third-year medical student knowledge and skills in medical information literacy for clinical decision making. The project has also provided useful data for ongoing discussions with the college of medicine regarding increasing the longitudinal role of the library throughout the curriculum.

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A presentation at the 2013 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting in Boston, MA.