Background: Individual interest, something that persists regardless of the situation, and situational interest, finding personal value in an educational context, have not been studied in medical student education. Objective: To determine if individualized case discussions enhance interest in pediatric medicine. Methods: During the 2008/2009 academic year, 88 clerkship students participated in clinical case discussions. At orientation, students completed an Interest in Pediatrics (IIP) questionnaire, responding 1=Strongly Disagree to 5=Strongly Agree. Intervention and control groups were randomly assigned. The intervention group personalized cases to students' medical specialty interests. The control group discussed the case presentation. Groups met twice during the 8-week clerkships, completing a post-IIP at the end of the clerkship. Results: Intervention group interest increased from pre-IIP, mean=3.64, to post-IIP, mean=4.22 (z=-2.994, p<0.05, r=-0.44). On post-IIP, application of pediatric medicine increased for both groups; the intervention group was most significant from pre-IIP, mean=1.09, to post-IIP, mean=4.33 (z=-6.038, p<0.05, r=-0.88). Discussion: Enhanced interest in pediatrics from the intervention group indicates that creating a learning environment personally relevant to students' careers facilitates interest to learn.
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