Background: Clinicians need self-directed learning skills to maintain competency. The objective of this study was to develop and implement a curriculum to teach physicians self-directed learning skills during inpatient ward rotations. Methods: Residents and attendings from an internal medicine residency were assigned to intervention or control groups; intervention physicians completed self-directed learning curricular exercises. Results: Among the 43 intervention physicians, 21 (49%) completed pre- and post-curriculum tests; and 10 (23%) completed the one-year test. Immediately after exposure to the curriculum, the proportion of physicians defining short- and long-term learning goals increased [short-term: 1/21 (5%) to 11/21 (52%), p = 0.001; long-term: 2/21 (10%) to 15/21 (71%), p = 0.001]. There were no significant changes post-curriculum in the quantity or quality of clinical question asking. The physicians' mean self-efficacy (on a 100-point scale) improved for their abilities to develop a plan to keep up with the medical literature (59 vs. 72, p = 0.04). The effects of the curriculum on self-reported learning behaviors was maintained from the immediate post-curriculum test to the one-year post curriculum test: [short-term learning goals: 1/21 (5%) pre-, 11/21 (52%) immediately post-, and 5/10 (50%) one-year after the curriculum (p = 0.0075 for the pre- vs one-year comparison); long-term learning goals: 2/21 (10%) pre-, 15/21 (71%) immediately post-, and 7/10 (70%) one-year (p = 0.0013 for the pre- vs one-year comparison). At one-year, half of the participants reported changed learning behaviors. Conclusions: A four-week curriculum may improve self-directed learning skills.
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