Finding Information Framework (FIF)
In this age of rapid information expansion, medical education can no longer be structured solely around information acquisition. We need to teach the concepts and lifelong learning skills of information management and information mastery to be used both at the “point-of-learning” and later applied in the clinical setting at the point-of-care. These concepts can be difficult to teach, so the school’s Evidence-Based Medicine Vertical Integration Group developed the “Finding Information Framework” – a conceptual algorithm as well as a practical web-based tool – to structure how medical students ask and categorize their questions and link them directly to the most appropriate information resource to answer their question. This framework is the basis of our longitudinal Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM)/Information Mastery curriculum, which is woven throughout the four years of medical school.
The Finding Information Framework gives conceptual structure to the difficult topics of:
- Information retrieval
- Information management
- Information mastery
- Evidence-based medicine
The framework is designed to be a student-centered tool, which starts with students generating a question (based in the concepts of adult learning). The FIF takes learners through an algorithm to define their question first by determining whether it is a foreground or a background question. Once they continue down the algorithm, background is split into basic science or clinical. Clinical background is further split into common and rare/academic interest. Foreground questions are defined as always being clinical, and are split into point of care, rare/academic interest, and resources/services. Once the student is able to put their question into one of these final categories, they are directed to the appropriate information resource group to answer their question. Each information resource group has a list of our recommended resources.
This framework and its concepts are taught to students early in the first year, reinforced throughout the curriculum and builds on itself over the four years. It is used in multiple courses including the medical library curriculum, the EBM/biostats course, the problem based learning course, and the Family Medicine clerkship. The feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive, with an emphasis on how logical and relevant this to their learning needs.