Most people assume that a medical degree means that a physician has been trained in all aspects of patient care. You might be surprised to know that medical schools in the United States and Canada DO NOT adequately teach contraception, options counseling, and abortion procedures in their curricula.
MSFC encourages medical schools to include in their curricula:
- didactic instruction on the public health, social and historical context of abortion;
- medical and surgical abortion techniques;
- pre- and post-abortion management;
- pregnancy-options and contraceptive counseling; and
- the opportunity to observe abortion procedures, including pre-abortion counseling.
We encourage students to take curriculum reform into their own hands and advocate within their medical schools to affect change. Below are some examples of what MSFC school groups are doing to add reproductive health information into the curricula at their schools:
- Surveying curricula and assessing the level and quality of abortion and reproductive health training offered at their school.
- Developing and implementing elective courses and lecture series.
- Inviting speakers to give talks about reproductive health information to students on campus.
- Training students to become activists.
- Organizing opportunities for students to observe abortion procedures and counseling sessions.
If you are interested in starting curriculum reform on your campus, the steps below will help get you started. You can also contact MSFC’s Training and Resources Manager for more individualized assistance.
1. Assess the Curriculum: Meet with your group to determine where your curriculum stands now and what steps must be taken for improvement.
- Talk to 2nd and 3rd year students to find out what reproductive health information is already included in your curriculum.
- Find out if anyone has worked on this issue in the past.
- Decide on some parameters- are you trying to reform the pre-clinical curriculum, clerkships, or both?
- Decide which types of subjects to you want to cover.
- Examine your group’s resources.
- Set realistic goals and timelines for the group’s work.
2. Seek Support: Find fellow students, faculty, administrators, and members of the community who can lend support and serve as allies during the process. Quick Tip: A FACULTY ADVOCATE makes a huge impact on the curriculum reform process.
3. Research a Curriculum Reform Strategy: Each school is structured differently. Where should you start advocating for curriculum reform at your school?
- Survey the students to determine your school’s needs.
- Get a focus group together to see what your fellow students think about the curriculum.
- Check with the curriculum manager to determine if your school’s reproductive health content has already been documented through MSFC’s Curriculum Mapping Project.
- Check to see if your school has a curriculum reform committee and if students are allowed to join- if they are, encourage your members to join.
- Identify influential people on your campus and ask them to help you with this important work.
4. Implement a Curriculum Reform Strategy:
- Utilize petitions, letter-writing campaigns, meetings, and the staff at MSFC Headquarters to create and execute your curriculum reform strategy.
- Utilize the Curricula Organizer for Reproductive Health Education (CORE) website to build Powerpoint presentations and obtain handouts for reproductive health information to help you implement your curriculum strategy.
5. Keep in touch with MSFC Headquarters: We can provide you with information, surveys, and support. And we need your help too! Curriculum reform is often a multi-year process, so future MSFCers at your school will be able to continue where you left off if you keep MSFC HQ in the loop about your efforts.
6. Always Use Your Resources: If you would like further information on curriculum reform, please refer to A Medical Student's Guide to Improving Reproductive Health Curricula. This guide was a collaborate effort between MSFC and The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals to help students improve their curriculum.
**Remember: No curriculum change is too small- and we’re here to help every step of the way!!!**
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