Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


Search This Site

COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Platform Presentation:

Operation Homefront: Meeting Clerkship Competencies with Home Visits to Families of Children with Special Needs

Bridget . Boyd,Loyola Stritch School of Medicine,Maywood,IL,Nadia Qureshi,Loyola Stritch School of Medicine,Maywood,IL,Jerold Stirling,Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine,Maywood,IL,Emily . Anderson,Loyola Stritch School of Medicine,Maywood,IL


Pediatric clerkships are increasingly challenged to find meaningful opportunities that meet competencies as medical school class sizes increase and traditional clinical experiences become saturated. Community-based experiences provide a way to meet this goal and student written reflection can help clerkship directors ensure educational objectives are met. Loyola Stritch School of Medicine Operation Homefront addresses challenges faced by families of a child with special needs. We pair third year students with families for two visits during the six-week pediatric clerkship to learn about the families’ experience and encourage thought beyond disease learned in the classroom. Students submit a one-page open-ended written reflection.


We analyzed 152 written reflections from July 2015-May 2016 to determine the relation to 9 COMSEP curriculum competencies/objectives in the areas of professionalism, communication and advocacy as well as identify additional significant themes (Chart 1).


All 152 student reflections linked to least 1 of the 9 expected competencies. Each reflection exhibited an average of 3 competencies, ranging from 1-7. Most commonly discussed were Respect (89%); Attitude (76%); Best Interests (41%); Barriers (37%); and Communication (33%). Language indicating other competencies was less common:  Physician Advocacy (10%); Patient Education (8%); and Community (17%).

Other frequent themes included positive student pledges as future practicing physicians; observations regarding prognostic uncertainty; importance of parental advocacy at the individual and social level; personal experience (or lack thereof) with individuals with special needs, and observations regarding the role of disability in patient identity.


Operation Homefront is a community-based experience that can fulfill existing clerkship competencies through analysis of student reflections. It could be replicated by utilizing parent advising groups as a referral group to gain volunteers. Standardizing the experience with more specific goals linked to the curriculum may allow students a more directed experience.