Educational Research ReportUse of an Interactive Online Teaching Module Improved Students' Ability to Write a Clinically Appropriate SOAP Note.
AbstractThe veterinary problem-based medical records lesson (Subjective-Objective-Assessment-Plan [SOAP] notes) at the University of Wisconsin, previously taught in lecture format, provides students little time for reflection. Moreover, evaluation of student-written SOAPs from subsequent courses demonstrates poor knowledge retention and application of the SOAP note structure. We hypothesized that a virtual, interactive, case-based module would improve student SOAP-writing skills. A second-year student cohort (n = 79) was taught SOAP skills in lecture format (LECTURE-2); 2 years later, another second-year student cohort (n = 73) used the virtual module (MODULE-2). All students wrote SOAPs, which were evaluated using a standardized rubric and the cohorts' scores were compared. SOAPs were then compared between a third-year student cohort who received lecture-based SOAP instruction the year before (LECTURE-3, n = 55) and a third-year student cohort who received the virtual module (MODULE-3, n = 44). We found that SOAP scores were significantly higher in the MODULE-2 group (Mdn = 6.5, range = 1.5-9.0) than in the LECTURE-2 group (Mdn = 5.0, range = 2.0-9.0, p = .006). Similarly, the MODULE-3 students scored higher on the differential diagnosis SOAP component than the LECTURE-3 students (Mdn = 1, range = 0-2, vs. Mdn = 0.5, range = 0-2, p = .041). Student feedback on the online module was positive. An online teaching module improved students' short- and long-term ability to write clinically appropriate SOAP notes. We suspect the module encouraged student engagement and reflection, leading to long-term retention and skill application.