Trainee Love and Breakup Letters to NephSIM: A Free, Mobile-Optimized, Nephrology Teaching Tool

Layla Fattah, David C. Thomas, Matthew A. Sparks, Samira S. Farouk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: It is not known how learners feel about free open access medical education (FOAMed) as they progress through their training from medical school to fellowship. Love and breakup letter methodology (LBM) is a technique that has been used extensively in user experience technology-based research but has not previously been used in evaluating medical education tools. LBM asks participants to creatively write a "love" or "breakup" letter to a product under study to capture their thoughts and emotions when engaging with it. We conducted qualitative analysis of data from focus groups to explore how attitudes toward a learning platform change at various training stages and to broaden our understanding of how we meet learners' needs through a nephrology FOAMed tool, NephSIM. METHODS: Three virtual, recorded focus groups were conducted with second-year medical students, internal medicine residents, and nephrology fellows ( N =18). At the start of the focus group, participants composed and read their love and breakup letters. Semistructured discussions were then led by facilitator-driven questions and peer comments. After transcription, inductive data analysis was conducted using Braun and Clarke's six-step thematic analysis. RESULTS: Four main themes were seen across all groups: attitudes toward teaching tool, perception of nephrology, learning needs and approach, and application to practice. Preclinical students positively viewed the opportunity to simulate the clinical setting and unanimously wrote love letters. Reactions from residents and fellows were mixed. Residents were interested in brevity and speed of learning, preferring algorithms and succinct approaches to meet their practice-based learning needs. Fellows' learning needs were driven by a desire to prepare for the nephrology board examination and review cases uncommonly seen in practice. CONCLUSIONS: LBM provided a valuable methodology through which to identify trainee reactions to a FOAMed tool and highlighted the challenges of meeting learning needs of a continuum of trainees with a single learning platform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1142
Number of pages8
JournalClinical journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023


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