TEACHING INTRAVENOUS CANNULATION TO MEDICAL STUDENTS: A COMPARISON OF TRADITIONAL METHODS
Intravenous cannulation (IVC) is the process of inserting a tube into a vein primarily for the administration of intravenous fluids, for obtaining blood samples and for administering medicines. It is an essential lifesaving clinical skill that must be mastered by undergraduate medical students prior to qualifying as doctors. This study assesses the effectiveness of two traditional methods of teaching IVC to third-year medical students. Forty third-year medical students were randomly allocated to one of two groups and trained to perform IVC using either a plastic simulated arm or by practicing on their peers. All students viewed an identical seven minute instructional video where they observed blood being taken from a real patient. Students completed a cannulation both pretest and posttest on the simulated arm. The results showed a statistically significant improvement from pretest to posttest in both groups. Moreover, students who had been trained on a real arm showed a greater level of improvement from baseline when compared with the simulated arm group (p=0.03). Additionally, students' self-reported level of confidence on a Likert scale to perform the task unsupervised was higher in the real arm group. In today's overburdened medical curriculum, where students are forced to spend ever longer in the library than on the wards, it is important to note that real-life clinical experience is still the best form of training. This has important implications for the future teaching of this procedure to medical students, nurses and phlebotomists.