Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2012 Indianapolis Meeting

Poster Presentation:

Global Physicians in Training: An Innovative Curriculum

Melissa Held, M.D. - University of Connecticut School of Medicine; Leigh Sweet, M.D., MPH - University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Purpose: The benefits of global health experiences have been well described; greater appreciation for working with limited resources, increased clinical skills and confidence, higher cultural sensitivity and attention to cost issues regardless of the learner’s ultimate career path. In response to learner interest and demand we developed a curriculum in Global Child Health at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. In the fall of 2011, we piloted the elective with four pediatric residents with the intention of expanding the program to include senior medical students in 2012.

Methods: The month-long elective introduced core topics such as causes of child morbidity and mortality worldwide, social determinants of disease and health, cultural compassion, and humanistic clinical care in resource-poor areas. Learners engaged in interactive sessions on leadership, management, and communication skills, workshops on developing community-based health initiatives, and site visits to community organizations promoting child health in Hartford. A one-week cultural immersion experience in Guatemala highlighted some of the major inequalities encountered globally. Participants completed a pre- and post-elective global health knowledge exam and self- assessment of advocacy skills, humanistic behaviors and ability to identify resources.

Results: Mean score on the knowledge pre-test was 54% (SD 4.0) with mean post-test score 75% (SD 7.5), p-value 0.003. All learners reported gaining significant knowledge and skills during the elective as well as increased confidence in their ability to improve child health locally and globally. One resident reflected, "Prior to this elective I felt as though I had a decent amount of experience abroad, but I quickly realized that I had never formally learned about the major problems surrounding global health. I found this an excellent experience that I appreciate having had the opportunity to be involved with."

Discussion: The Global Child Health pilot elective provided pediatric residents with significant knowledge, skills and satisfaction. Due to the elective’s success, the program will be expanded in 2012 to include fourth year medical students. We believe this experience will provide students with the knowledge, communication skills, cultural sensitivity, and humanistic values necessary to appropriately care for the world’s children and their families.