Teaching Prevention in Internal Medicine Clerkships

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The teaching of prevention to students in internal medicine has come into much sharper focus in the past decade or so, and the ongoing development of a strong scientific base for clinical preventive services has led to broad acceptance of the principles and practice of prevention in internal medicine. This article reviews the rationale for including prevention in the clinical medicine clerkship, summarizes current guidelines, presents examples of curricula in several medical schools, and proposes a future direction for more fully integrating prevention teaching in the internal medicine clerkship into the rest of the medical school curriculum.Internal medicine clerkships present many opportunities for teaching and learning about the broad scope of prevention, from individual preventive services to improving the health of groups of patients. But individual clinical clerkships cannot do the job in isolation from each other. More attention should be directed to coordinating the teaching of prevention among the clinical disciplines and across the entire four-year medical school curriculum, so that students graduating from medical school will leave with the thorough understanding they need to contribute to the health of the public in the health care system of the future.

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