Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

Integrating Breastfeeding into Medical Education: A Longitudinal Approach

Amber N. Price,University of Chicago,Chicago,IL,Maria Alkureishi,University of Chicago,Chicago,IL,Nicola Orlov,University of Chicago,Chicago,IL

Purpose: According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s educational statement, “All physician’s regardless of discipline should have basic knowledge and skills in breastfeeding preventative maintenance, diagnosis, and treatment. Therefore, the theory and practice of breastfeeding should be incorporated routinely into medical school curricula.” Additionally, the Ambulatory Pediatrics Association & Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics (COMSEP) General Pediatric Clerkship Curriculum, which has been adopted by more than 90% of the Pediatric Clerkships in North America, further supports this by stating third year medical students should be able to not only describe the advantages of breastfeeding but also understand the common difficulties experienced by breastfeeding mothers. However, few undergraduate medical education programs offer opportunities to formally study breastfeeding medicine and clinical practices continue to exist that serve as barriers to exclusive breastfeeding. To address this, a longitudinal curriculum is being developed as part of the pediatric core lecture series for 3rd year Pritzker Medical Students 

Methods: A needs assessment administered to Pritzker Medical Students who had completed their 3rd and 4th year of medical school revealed deficiencies in recognizing newborn hunger cues, assisting with common breastfeeding positions, assessing an effective latch and suckling pattern and advising a breastfeeding mother on medication choices. Based on these results, Kern’s six-step approach for curriculum development was used to create a lecture that addresses these areas of weakness. The lecture consists of a didactic portion and use of live breastfeeding dyads that demonstrate proper breastfeeding positioning and technique. The goal of the curriculum is to increase medical student's breastfeeding knowledge, skills and confidence in providing breastfeeding support to patients. Students take both a pre and post assessment to determine the impact of the lecture on their breastfeeding knowledge and comfort level, as well as an overall evaluation of the lecture.

Future plans for the curriculum include development of standardized patient encounters to evaluate the student's ability to apply knowledge gained from the lecture in a practical setting.

Results: Each participant reported an improvement in knowledge in the following areas: hunger cues, breastfeeding positions, latch assessment, feeding patterns, stomach capacity, skin-to-skin and comfort level related to breastfeeding. Participants agreed that the lecture achieved the following: stated objectives met, informative and effective, relevant to pediatrics, new knowledge gained, effective live demonstration, enhanced ability to provide breastfeeding assistance and increased ability to teach breastfeeding to patients.

Conclusions: Breastfeeding knowledge and comfort level have increased for those participating in a dedicated breastfeeding curriculum.