Teaching what matters: Integrating health equity education into the core surgery clerkship

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Surgery. 2021 Nov 29:S0039-6060(21)00968-5. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2021.10.010. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Significant disparities in surgical outcomes exist. It is imperative to prepare future doctors to eliminate disparities. Our team of senior medical students developed a surgical clerkship module examining equity in prostate cancer. Student attitudes before and after a facilitated teaching session were assessed.

METHODS: A surgical equity pilot module was integrated into the core surgical clerkship starting in July 2020. This module was composed of (1) asynchronous preparatory material and (2) a synchronous interactive case discussion regarding disparities in prostate cancer. Discussion sessions were facilitated by upper-level medical students. Participants answered optional anonymous Likert-style and open-ended survey questions before and after the session. Pre- and post-responses were compared.

RESULTS: One hundred and sixteen students completed the module between July 2020 and January 2021. Pre- and post-survey response rates were 66% and 29%, respectively. At baseline, almost all students (95%) agreed knowledge of disparities would make them a better physician. However, the majority (95%) described their general knowledge of surgical disparities as “nonexistent,” “poor,” or “average.” Most students did not have a framework for assessing causes of surgical disparities (86%) and were not aware of interventions for reducing disparities (90%). After intervention, the majority rated their knowledge of surgical disparities as “good” or “excellent” (71%; P < .001). Most students indicated they had a framework 79%; P < .001) and were aware of effective interventions (62%; P < .001).

CONCLUSION: We demonstrated a successful pilot of an equity-focused clerkship module. Student attitudes after a single session reflected significant improvement in knowledge of causes and interventions related to surgical disparities. Equity-focused teaching can be incorporated into the surgical clerkship.

PMID:34857383 | DOI:10.1016/j.surg.2021.10.010