Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2008 Atlanta Meeting

Poster Presentation:

Pediatric Summer Externship: A Replicable Model

Pradip D Patel, and Karen Miller
University of Louisville SOM, Louisville, Kentucky

Background: Early clinical experiences are necessary to a successful medical curriculum; easing the transition between basic and clinical sciences and exposing students to clinical applications of the basic sciences. The Pediatric Summer Externship, at the U of L SOM Department of Pediatrics, has been active since 1997. Annually, 20 rising 2nd year students spend 4 weeks in a pediatric specialty. The Department provides $21,000 annually for student stipends.
Objective: The goals are to increase the visibility of Pediatrics as a primary care specialty early in medical training; and to enhance the competitiveness of the Department for students drawn to primary care.
Design/Methods: An evaluation of the Externship was conducted by the Program Planning Evaluation course in the spring of 2007. The data sources were: program overview and records of student participation; national and institutional residency selection data; web-based surveys to measure perceptions of past participants.
The team explored the following hypotheses: the program better prepares students for their clinical clerkships; the program will influence students to pursue a career in pediatrics; and participants will excel in their pediatric clerkship.
Results: The impression of the program was very positive. Participation in the Externship has been at capacity since its inception. The response rate to the survey of past participants was exceptional (57.4%) with all of those surveyed saying they “enjoyed the experience” and 78.8% would “recommend it to others”. Of those surveyed, 41.3% chose a career in pediatrics.
When asked their reason for applying to the program, “interest in pediatrics’was rated first by 33.8%. When asked if the program prepares students for their 3rd year clerkship, 89.4% agreed or strongly agreed that it did; and 24% of Externship students earned third year honors (compared to a typical honors rate of 11%).
Conclusions: Organizational data relating to the program s success, and the perceptions of past participants can be used as support for other institutions who may consider adopting this model. The stability and perception of the program over 10 years provides strong evidence of good outcomes and of sustainability. The model can easily be adapted with faculty willingness and financial support.