Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2008 Atlanta Meeting

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Right from the Start: Early Exposure to Community Pediatrics for Medical Student Externs

Ginny Cleppe, and Paola Palma-Sisto
Medical College of Wisconsin

Each year, 6-8 students who have completed their M1 year receive subsidies to participate in an 8 week externship designed to expose them to career opportunities within pediatrics. Each extern is assigned to 2-3 clinical settings providing general pediatrics and subspecialty care, both in- and out-patient.
Objective:   During the summer of 2007 externs participated in 3 encounters designed to increase their awareness of community pediatrics, defined as “a focus on all children, not a single child, with recognition that many factors. . .significantly affect the functioning of children.”1 
Methods: In the first session, a didactic presentation about advocacy and its relevance to pediatricians was combined with a presentation by pediatric residents of an advocacy project undertaken during a community pediatrics rotation. In the second session, externs visited Children’s Court Center, where they dialogued with a former judge and observed hearings. Students visited local community based organization whose mission is to enhance family functioning for the third session.
Results: Students’ written feedback on the site visits were highly positive. All agreed with 5/6 “strongly agreeing” that future extern groups should visit Children’s Court. All agreed with 3/7 “strongly agreeing” that future extern groups should visit the community organization. Six of seven agreed (3 strongly) that the overall experience added to their understanding of Child Advocacy and how to practice advocacy as a physician. Students offered suggestions included extending the Children’s Court visit to a full day (2/6). Additional comments about the meaning of the experiences were also provided. 
Conclusion: We will continue offering similar externship experiences as a way to introduce and reinforce the concept that “pediatricians play an essential role in promoting the physical, mental, and social health and well-being of all children in the communities they serve.”2 
1“Achieving Consensus on Competency in Community Pediatrics,” Lynn C. Garfunkel, et al., Pediatrics 2005; 115; 1167-1171.
2“The Pediatrician’s Role in Community Pediatrics,” Committee on Community Health Services, Pediatrics 2005, 115; 1092-1094.