A Grassroots Student–Faculty Coalition on Curriculum Change

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To address health disparities and provide more inclusive patient care, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has charged medical schools with improving training in sexual and gender minority (SGM) health.1 Medical school curriculum renewal moves slowly for varying reasons, with medical students contributing peripherally through evaluations or focus groups. As student–advocates, we partnered with faculty and successfully orchestrated a novel approach, utilizing popular change management strategies to develop and implement an SGM curriculum in a timely manner.2
As students, we harnessed our experience in advocacy and education to form a student–faculty coalition, developing a grassroots approach to activate curricular change. We leveraged our student perspective of engaging with learning throughout the curriculum to create a curricular map for longitudinal incorporation of SGM content. We then formed 42 student–faculty partnerships with lecturers, course directors, and SGM health experts. Students created literature-based course content and evaluations, while faculty provided expertise in curriculum development and instructional methods to meet learning objectives. Through this grassroots approach, we made meaningful changes within the current curriculum, supporting our medical school to answer the AAMC’s call.
We achieved many successes, from developing an introductory video on SGM-inclusive sexual history taking to implementing a pediatric clerkship case study supporting an adolescent questioning their sexual orientation. As faculty and students noticed our early successes, the coalition grew stronger. Over 18 months, we implemented six modules designed as a longitudinal strand, reinforcing key content and learning objectives throughout the curriculum. To secure buy-in, we presented our work to our institution’s medical education leaders. With each incoming class, the coalition continues to develop new modules and maintain evaluation of current ones in a sustainable manner.
Our student–faculty collaboration has extended our medical school’s curriculum development capacity, and increased agility in an otherwise slow-moving process. In the case of SGM health, we have brought about timely curricular change. This experience has empowered us as students to find our voice as advocates for the well-being of our patients, and to gain a skill set as future medical education leaders. We hope all medical schools consider this grassroots approach of curricular change to address the urgent call for medical education to support our marginalized communities and foster student advocates.
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