Enhancing Reproductive Health Through Medical Education and Advocacy [1H]

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Despite the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics recommendation to include reproductive health in medical education curricula, a recent literature review revealed reproductive health education is lacking in medical schools nationwide. In response to these findings, we created a Reproductive Health Advocacy (RHA) team whose purpose is two-fold: to educate medical students on reproductive health, and to train students to serve as advocates for patients in need of reproductive health counseling and services.

METHODS:

Second-year medical students were recruited to the RHA program via email. Thirteen students completed the two-day training on contraception, pregnancy options, patient counseling, abortion laws and finances. Pre and post surveys were administered to assess student knowledge and attitudes toward reproductive health.

RESULTS:

All respondents were female (average age=24.3). Pre- and post-test findings respectively revealed 77% vs 23% (P=.0003) of participants incorrectly identified methods of long acting reversible contraception (LARC); 84.62% vs 8% (P=.0003) misidentified emergency contraceptive methods; 46% vs 100% (P=.0498) strongly agreed abortion is a safe procedure; and 8.33% vs 66.67% (P=.0498) strongly believed abortion access is problematic. After training, advocates expressed enhanced awareness of reproductive healthcare barriers and available resources.

CONCLUSION:

Our program enhances reproductive health education through improvements of clinical knowledge, attitudes and confidence in counseling patients on reproductive health. Since launching the program in July 2015 and receiving IRB approval at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami Hospital in August 2015, we have trained 13 RHAs who have helped 6 women access reproductive healthcare services.

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