ABSTRACT: Creating a longitudinal database in medical education: Perspectives from the pioneers.
The Jefferson Longitudinal Study of Medical Education (JLSME) is the longest running database in medical education and covers the collection and measurement of background, learning, performance, and psychosocial variables before, during, and after medical school. Recently, our research group at VU University Medical Center School of Medical Sciences launched a longitudinal study in medical education, called the “Student Motivation and Success Study.” While setting up this study, we faced many challenges and learning about the JLSME helped us gain a fresh perspective on our work. We interviewed Drs. Joseph Gonnella and Mohammadreza Hojat, the leaders of the JLSME, and present their experiences verbatim in this article and summarize the lessons we learned as tips for others. We conclude that by establishing a longitudinal database, medical educators can test and ensure the quality of the doctors they produce, justify curricular reforms, participate in a continuing inquiry into their educational practices, and produce more generalizable research findings.