How M2s can help bring change to community health

There’s a timeless rule in real estate: Location, location, location. It is perhaps unsurprising that public health has an analogue: the community, the community, the community, which emphasizes a certain medical training.

Here are highlights from “Community Health in Action: The AT Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona,” Chapter 10 of Value Added Roles for Medical Students, which explores real-world examples of successful student-led, community-based primary care projects.

Value Added Roles for Medical Students is part of the AMA MedEd Innovation series, which provides practical guidance for the local implementation of educational innovations tested and refined by the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium. In addition to presenting case studies, the manual presents the historical context and conceptual underpinnings that underlie the roles of medical students that add value to the health care system as well as to their education.

When AT Still University (ATSU) established its School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (SOMA), in 2007, it entered into a partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers through which students are onboarded on time full in community health centers for the second, third and fourth year of their undergraduate medical training. In 2020, ATSU-SOMA had 15 partner sites in 11 states.

“By working and living in these environments, ATSU-SOMA students develop an authentic perspective regarding the challenges patients face when trying to access care,” wrote the authors, Joy H. Lewis, DO, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Public Health, and Kate Whelihan, MPH, Public Health Instructor at ATSU-SOMA. The challenges can be financial, linguistic, cultural, geographical or related to mobility.

“Thus, they learn to actively contribute to improving health outcomes for vulnerable individuals and populations,” they wrote.

Learn more with the AMA at how value-added roles can transform medical education.

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To better understand population health, all second-year students at ATSU-SOMA participate in a one-year sequence of courses in epidemiology, biostatistics and preventive medicine.

At the same time, they work with health center leaders, community members and other stakeholders to develop, implement and evaluate primary care projects that address the social determinants of health.

Community-based primary care projects represent “an ideal structure for medical students,” the authors wrote, noting that students use their early medical knowledge and various life skills to provide services and programs that meet the local needs.

Community-based primary care projects “serve as experiential learning opportunities,” they added. “These allow students to learn about community health, research methods, program development and evaluation.

Students work in groups and learn to follow all the steps required of any investigator, including conducting needs assessments, conducting literature reviews, developing detailed project proposals, and submitting their projects for review. by human subjects.

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Projects addressed unwanted pregnancies, negative childhood experiences, poor attachment to community resources, and the physical and mental well-being of refugees.

“The vast majority of students rate their experiences with the projects as favorable,” the authors wrote. “Students have always expressed that they understand the value of the community project as a learning experience and as a way to give back to their CSC community. »

The chapter includes a partner site readiness assessment checklist and a summary of the toolkit used by students and faculty to implement the projects, as well as key guidance for feasibility and durability.

Value Added Roles for Medical Students features case studies of additional longitudinal experiences, as well as tips for planning, launching, sustaining and growing value-added roles.

Additionally, in 2020 WADA published the second edition of the Health Systems Science textbook. Companion, Scientific Review of Health Systemsprovides case-based questions followed by discussion of the answers and suggested readings.

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