Preclinical medical education is largely lecture-based with limited patient-experience prior to clinical rotations. Consequently, students begin rotations with low confidence regarding patient communication skills and their utility to the care-team. Minimal clinical exposure, in tandem with intense academic work, likely contributes to student burnout. Furthermore, OB/GYN residencies struggle with recruitment. Concurrently, many pregnant women lack optimal support throughout pregnancy when evidence shows that continuous labor support improves outcomes.METHODS:
Preclinical medical students are trained by hospital-based doulas and midwives to provide holistic prenatal, labor, and postpartum support. Students are paired with doulas for one labor, and one prenatal, postpartum, and home visit, prior to having independent clients.RESULTS:
Students gained comprehensive OB/GYN knowledge and developed confidence providing comfort, advocacy, and facilitating patient-care-team communication. Reflections like, “I learned how to be there in a very personal and intimate way for someone I hardly knew,” and “now, on my OB/GYN rotation, I feel much more comfortable jumping in and helping women,” confirm preliminary findings. Patient reflections included, “I can't believe that someone who is going to be a Doctor, took the time to spend so much time with me.”DISCUSSION:
Student-provided labor support is beneficial for both students and patients.