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Characterizing the Successful Student in Virtual Gross Anatomy


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic abruptly shifted the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (LECOM) pre-clinical curriculum to a virtual format, including that of the anatomical sciences. As anatomy is so fundamental to clinical medicine, we sought to identify characteristics and behaviors influencing success in the 2020 virtual cohort of human gross anatomy. This data will inform student support in gross anatomy as the pandemic progresses and eventually resolves. First-year medical students at the Erie, Seton Hill, and Elmira campuses of LECOM were surveyed about personal wellbeing, academic habits, and examination preparation. Survey responses were compared to students’ final cumulative gross anatomy grade, identifying contributors to success in the course. Final course grade increased with life satisfaction, support system strength, self-perceived merit, comfort admitting academic difficulties, and seeking appropriate academic assistance. Concentrating fully while studying, taking ten-minute study breaks, and self-generating test questions were also associated with increased final grade. Additionally, students completing undergraduate studies 0-2 years prior to matriculation performed significantly better than their peers. Cramming, fear of failure, test-tasking anxiety, study routine changes prior to examinations, poor adherence to study schedules, and studying in groups were associated with decreased course grade. Final grade also decreased when students reported difficulty identifying main ideas and understanding test questions. Interestingly, reporting an awareness of mental health resources at our institution was associated with decreased final course grade. Identification of these correlates to success will allow for proper support of our students in a virtual environment complicated by pandemic stressors.

Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2023
Publication Date May 1, 2023
Journal Journal of Academic Development and Education Anatomical Sciences Special Edition
Print ISSN 2051-3593
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