A Medical Student’s Guide to Improving Reproductive Health Curricula – III. Develop Strategies to Meet Your Goal

Goal: Based on evaluation data, student and faculty feedback, and your school’s reaction to student-led curriculum change, identify a realistic goal for curriculum reform.

Action:

  • Although full integration of reproductive health topics into the required curriculum is ideal, this may not always be possible. Decide what you are and are not willing to negotiate, and remember that even small changes make a difference.

Examples of Curriculum Reform Goals

  • Host a guest lecture on a reproductive health topic. Ask a faculty member to present a lecture, contact a clinician in the community, or visit www.arhp.org and click on “Professional Education ” for free guest lectures provided by ARHP’s visiting faculty program.
  • Form an organization at your school committed to improving the coverage of reproductive health topics in the curriculum. MSFC can help you get started.
  • Integrate reproductive health topics into existing courses, electives, and other required curricula. Use sample lectures and other resources from MSFC and/or the ARHP Reproductive Health Model Curriculum (see Appendices 1 and 2).
  • Establish a women’s or reproductive health elective. Use sample curricula from MSFC and/or the ARHP Reproductive Health Model Curriculum (see Appendices 1 and 2).

Goal: With your core group, explore your options for working to improve the curriculum.

Action:

  • Consider the following questions as you explore options for curriculum improvement:
    • Do you need more evaluation data to prove that the curriculum needs improvement (e.g., surveys, petitions, statistics, national trends)?
    • How many students think the curriculum needs improvement? Do you have critical mass support for attaining your goal?
    • If you decide to incorporate reproductive health topics into all or some courses, which courses? What information should be taught? How should the information be taught—in lectures, small group discussions, clinical settings?
    • What is the best time to hold a lecture, course, or event? Which faculty member(s) or other administrator(s) would be involved?

Goal: Work with your core group to establish concrete strategies for improvements in the reproductive health curriculum.

Action:

  • Establish long- and short-term strategies to meet your goal and a timeline. Use your research (see I. Conduct Your Own Research: Determine Needs), and consider the following:
    • Define goals for improving your school’s curriculum.
    • Determine whether your school should (a) integrate reproductive health topics into all or some courses, (b) offer an elective, or (c) hold a seminar.
    • Establish strategies to achieve your goals and develop a realistic timeline that sets deadlines for your primary goals.
    • If you are working to integrate reproductive health into your curriculum, develop a list of courses and changes that will be implemented. For example, medical interviewing/history-taking or physician/patient classes could include sexual history-taking; ob/gyn rotations could include pregnancy options counseling. Approach the appropriate faculty person with suggestions for integration.
    • If you are working to add an elective, brainstorm possible clinical sites and a course director. Contact MSFC for assistance in identifying potential sites. Be certain that (a) the elective will be offered at a time when students are available and (b) there are students who are committed to taking the elective both this year and in the future.

Goal: State your case for curriculum reform.

Actions:

  • Using the information collected, write a brief report to share with your core group (students, faculty, and administrators) and decision makers (department chairs, curriculum committee, etc.). Key points of the report should include:
    • The reasons the curriculum needs to be improved based on health care needs (e.g., the statistics included in the introduction to the Guide).
    • The reasons the curriculum needs to be improved from the perspective of students, faculty, and administrators. Use evaluation results as evidence to support your plans for curriculum improvement.
    • The willingness of the students, faculty, and administrators to support and implement curriculum change.
    • Information on existing resources, such as prepared curricula, that can be used to improve reproductive health education. (See Appendix 1 for information on the ARHP Reproductive Health Model Curriculum.)
    • If applicable, include a list of the competencies that will be met by integrating these topics into the curriculum.
    • Include relevant resolutions on women’s health and reproductive health training from medical organizations, e.g., AMA resolution (See Appendices 17, 18, and 19).
  • Search the literature to identify work being done to reform women’s and reproductive health curricula. This can be useful information for strategizing and presenting your case to faculty, administrators, or the curriculum committee. Examples include:
    • Donaghue GD. Women’s health: a catalyst for reform of medical education. Academic Medicine. 2000;75(11):1056-1060.
    • Krasnoff MJ. Resources for teaching about women’s health. Academic Medicine. 2000;75(11):1087-1094.
    • Magrane D, McIntyre-Seltman K. Women’s health care issues for medical students: an education proposal. Women’s Health Issues. 1996;6(4):183-191.
    • Nelson M, Nicolete J, Johnson K. Integration and evolution: women’s health as a model for interdisciplinary change in medical education. Academic Medicine. 1997;72(9):737-740.

Goal: Broaden the dialogue on curriculum change to reach those outside of your core group.

Actions:

  • Sponsor an event or lecture on a current reproductive health issue. You can recruit and inform students and faculty in attendance about your proposed curriculum changes.
  • Hold a forum to discuss curriculum improvements. Invite people representing a variety of perspectives, including faculty and administrators. Personally invite as many people as you can and make the meeting effective, energetic, and motivational. Use your goals for curriculum reform to educate and motivate the masses!
Tips for Successful Events

  • Schedule your event at a time that is convenient for the people you want to attend.
  • Give possible attendees plenty of notice about the event.
  • Personally invite people, especially faculty members.
  • Advertise your event in places frequented by your intended audience (see Appendix 5).
  • Increase advertising right before the event.
  • Provide food and drinks or other incentives for attendees – and advertise these, too.