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Open Access Research article

Description and evaluation of an EBM curriculum using a block rotation

David H Thom1*, Julie Haugen2, Peter S Sommers1 and Peter Lovett1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Avenue, Building 80/83, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

2 Barnett-Briggs Medical Library, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Avenue, Building 30, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

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BMC Medical Education 2004, 4:19  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-4-19

Published: 11 October 2004



While previous authors have emphasized the importance of integrating and reinforcing evidence-based medicine (EBM) skills in residency, there are few published examples of such curricula. We designed an EBM curriculum to train family practice interns in essential EBM skills for information mastery using clinical questions generated by the family practice inpatient service. We sought to evaluate the impact of this curriculum on interns, residents, and faculty.


Interns (n = 13) were asked to self-assess their level of confidence in basic EBM skills before and after their 2-week EBM rotation. Residents (n = 21) and faculty (n = 12) were asked to assess how often the answers provided by the EBM intern to the inpatient service changed medical care. In addition, residents were asked to report how often they used their EBM skills and how often EBM concepts and tools were used in teaching by senior residents and faculty. Faculty were asked if the EBM curriculum had increased their use of EBM in practice and in teaching.


Interns significantly increased their confidence over the course of the rotation. Residents and faculty felt that the answers provided by the EBM intern provided useful information and led to changes in patient care. Faculty reported incorporating EBM into their teaching (92%) and practice (75%). Residents reported applying the EBM skills they learned to patient care (86%) and that these skills were reinforced in the teaching they received outside of the rotation (81%). All residents and 11 of 12 faculty felt that the EBM curriculum had improved patient care.


To our knowledge, this is the first published EBM curriculum using an individual block rotation format. As such, it may provide an alternative model for teaching and incorporating EBM into a residency program.