How Can Medical Students Add Value? Identifying Roles, Barriers, and Strategies to Advance the Value of Undergraduate Medical Education to Patient Care and the Health System

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Abstract

Purpose

As health systems evolve, the education community is seeking to reimagine student roles that combine learning with meaningful contributions to patient care. The authors sought to identify potential stakeholders regarding the value of student work, and roles and tasks students could perform to add value to the health system, including key barriers and associated strategies to promote value-added roles in undergraduate medical education.

Method

In 2016, 32 U.S. medical schools in the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) Accelerating Change in Education Consortium met for a two-day national meeting to explore value-added medical education; 121 educators, systems leaders, clinical mentors, AMA staff leadership and advisory board members, and medical students were included. A thematic qualitative analysis of workshop discussions and written responses was performed, which extracted key themes.

Results

In current clinical roles, students can enhance value by performing detailed patient histories to identify social determinants of health and care barriers, providing evidence-based medicine contributions at the point-of-care, and undertaking health system research projects. Novel value-added roles include students serving as patient navigators/health coaches, care transition facilitators, population health managers, and quality improvement team extenders. Six priority areas for advancing value-added roles are student engagement, skills, and assessments; balance of service versus learning; resources, logistics, and supervision; productivity/billing pressures; current health systems design and culture; and faculty factors.

Conclusions

These findings provide a starting point for collaborative work to positively impact clinical care and medical education through the enhanced integration of value-added medical student roles into care delivery systems.

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