A Review from Medical Science Educator from Dr. Kurt Gilliland

This month the IAMSE Publications Committee review is taken from the article titled Generation Z: What’s Next? published in the Medical Science Educator by Geoff Talmon.

As a member of the Publications Committee, I wanted to share an interesting article in Medical Science Educator, the journal of IAMSE, on Generation Z students. The name of the article is Generation Z: What’s Next? by Geoffrey A. Talmon (Medical Science Educator, published online August 13, 2019).

Faculty members are aware that, as we get older, our students are always young and belong to generations that are one, two, or even three below us. The newest generation to enter medical education is Generation Z, those who were born from 1990 to 2010. Dr. Talmon’s article (and his address on this same topic at the recent IAMSE meeting in Roanoke, Virginia, USA) carefully evaluates this generation so that we as faculty can best bridge the gap between “us and them” and teach effectively.

Generation Z makes up the largest percentage of the US population and is the most diverse to date. Dr. Talmon points out that they were “products of the post-9/11 world, a time of economic liability, political polarization, and multiple foreign wars.” He adds that they are accustomed to reading negative media and seeing popular figures in scandals, but he points out that they have also witnessed significant advances in equality. Generation Z students thus seem to have “a higher prevalence of risk aversion, financial frugality, and an expectation that they will need to work harder.”

Dr. Talmon discusses the extensive use of technology by Generation Z students in all facets of their lives. This generation expects on-demand, low-barrier access to all information that is preferred to be in bite-sized pieces with real-time feedback. A negative consequence, he explains, can possibly be a difficulty to form conceptual connections or to distinguish fact from opinion online.

As faculty, we are encouraged to develop curricula that include linkage of concepts, the framing of questions, reflection activities, and asynchronous video-based content, all with real-time feedback. Meanwhile, Dr. Talmon advises that we as faculty must become adept at helping students select appropriate external online resources. Dr. Talmon concludes by emphasizing the importance of face-to-face interactions (even if they are virtual) and personal experiences and discussions. As faculty continue to learn about this generation, we will be able to connect with these students and develop effective, student-centered curricula.

This article pairs nicely with one on Generation Z students who are entering graduate medical education: Is Medical Education Ready for Generation Z by Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, David Lick, and Ronald Hunt in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education (August 2018).

You can access Dr. Talmon’s article and many others like it at www.iamse.org by following the link to Medical Science Educator.

Kurt Gilliland, PhD
Associate Dean for Curriculum
Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
IAMSE Publication Committee