ChangeMedEd Initiative

Medical students relish role as innovators in education

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

In the task of creating the medical school of the future, it is fitting that students sometimes take the initiative. In areas such as reaching homeless patients and teaching healthy lifestyle habits, medical students were at the heart of innovative efforts that hit home with our readers this year.

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Sacramento medical students treat the homeless in the community. Concepts that emphasize taking environmental factors into account when treating a patient are gaining steam in medical education. The same environmental factors that many physicians are now focused on addressing, however, prevent some of the sickest patient populations from accessing care. To combat that, a clinical track at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine is working to bridge this gap in health care for homeless people by bringing the clinic to them.

Women wanting to lead in medicine can start when they’re students. While nearly half of medical school graduates are women, that population isn’t proportionately represented in medical education leadership. A program launched by faculty and students at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine aims to increase the number of women in leadership roles in medical education and across medicine.

Much to learn when med students leave classroom, enter boardroom. To keep up with changes in medicine—changes medical school curriculum struggles to reflect—a group of students at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine is forming connections with private companies to learn about entrepreneurialism and the cutting edge in health care innovation.

To teach patients healthy habits, students first teach themselves. Effective treatment of prevalent conditions such as obesity and diabetes requires a nation of physicians who are informed on the issues and capable of effectively coaching their patients to adopt better habits. To that end, students at Eastern Virginia Medical School have created nutrition modules that equip medical students to confront these maladies within their communities.

To address health disparities, med students connect with kids. Two recent student-led projects took tomorrow’s doctors out of their own classrooms and into those of the communities they will one day serve to better understand the social determinants of health. The projects also provided insights into health professions for children who might have otherwise assumed they were not cut out to work in medicine.