Intravenous literature: Karp, J.K., Weston, C.M. and King, K.E. (2011) Transfusion medicine in American undergraduate medical education. Transfusion. [epub ahead of print].
BACKGROUND: Blood transfusion is the most common procedure performed in American hospitals, and transfusions are commonly ordered by physicians without formal training in transfusion medicine. Several transfusion medicine curricula have been proposed, including those developed through the Transfusion Medicine Academic Awards (TMAA). To our knowledge, no comprehensive study has assessed how transfusion medicine is incorporated into undergraduate medical education.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: We conducted an online survey to determine the manner in which transfusion medicine is incorporated into American undergraduate medical education. The survey was e-mailed to administrators of medical education at all of the 129 American medical schools accredited by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
RESULTS: Eighty-six (67%) of the 129 identified medical school administrators responded. Seventy-one (83%) of the 86 administrators reported that their undergraduate medical education curriculum provides didactic lectures in transfusion medicine, with 48% of medical schools providing 1 or 2 hours of lecture-based instruction. A minority reported small group sessions devoted to transfusion medicine topics. While a slim majority reported the availability of transfusion medicine electives, only one of 84 administrators reported that such a rotation is required. Seventy-six of 83 (92%) administrators were unfamiliar with either the 1989 or the 1995 TMAA transfusion medicine curricula.
CONCLUSION: Transfusion medicine content in American undergraduate medical education is variable and the influence of the TMAA program on contemporary medical school curricula is questionable. Future efforts in this area should focus on standardizing and improving undergraduate medical education in transfusion medicine.