Impact of a Longitudinal Community Health Elective on Medical Students and the Community
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The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine developed two longitudinal Community Health (CH) electives that allow medical students to volunteer in medically underserved areas/populations (MUA/Ps) during the first 3.5 years of training in an effort to develop a greater understanding of MUPs, promote greater empathy for MUPs, cultivate an interest in Primary Care, and strengthen a desire to serve MUPs long-term. This program review evaluated the effectiveness of the CH electives in accomplishing these four objectives. 42 students from the Class of 2021 were surveyed using a five-point Likert Scale (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree) after completing the CH electives. Students were asked to describe their experience completing the electives. Of the research participants, 100% reported increased empathy for MUA/Ps, 95% and 91% reported increased understanding of challenges facing MUA/Ps and physicians working with MUPs, respectively, 86% reported increased interest in working with MUPs, and 52% reported increased interest in Primary Care. The most common words used to describe the course were “eye-opening”, “rewarding”, and “impactful”. The CH electives serve as an innovative, community-based education strategy for medical schools.
- Brandon W. Moritz, Medical Student, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine