American Osteopathic Association

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Majority of Medical Students Multitask During Lectures, Finds Study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

Aug. 12, 2014

(CHICAGO) – Multitasking during a lecture is prominent among medical students with checking email listed as the top activity according to a study in the August issue of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA).

A survey of 125 second year students at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Carolinas Campus (VCOM – Carolinas) in Spartanburg, South Carolina found 98% of students checked email during a typical 50 minute lecture. Rounding out the top five ways students multitasked during class are:

  • Visiting social media sites (81%)
  • Studying for another course (74%)
  • Sending text messages (66%)
  • Reading online or print materials (50%).

“Today’s medical students grew up during an era with rapid advancements in computer technology and electronic media that changed our daily lives, from how we interact with others to the ways we do our work,” says co-author Ronald P. Januchowski, DO, assistant professor of family medicine and associate dean for curriculum, assessment and medical education at VCOM-Carolinas. “With the technological ability to constantly be ‘on’ coupled with the rigorous demands of medical school, students might feel compelled to perform more than one task at a time.”

Reasons students cited for multitasking during class include back-to-back examinations in a week, too many lectures in a day and lack of interest in the material being presented.

While multitasking during lectures impacts the students’ short term recall on exams, Dr. Januchowski says he doesn’t think that it will diminish their overall training and knowledge required to become a good physician.

What is a DO?

DOs are licensed physicians who can prescribe medication and practice in all specialty areas, including surgery, in the United States. They complete four years of medical school followed by graduate medical education through internship and residency programs typically lasting three to eight years. In addition, DOs receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system, providing them with an in-depth knowledge of the ways that illness or injury in one part of the body can affect another. As one of the fastest-growing segments of health care professionals in the nation, the number of DOs has grown more than 200% during the past 25 years.

About The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific publication produced by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). The AOA represents more than 104,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; and is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at


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