Des Moines University Uses AHRQ Guide for Master's Level Courses in Public Health, Health Administration
Des Moines University has found an innovative use for AHRQ's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2005: Recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Wendy J. Ringgenberg, PhD, professor of public health, is using the Guide as an illustrative supplement to the textbook in a course titled, "Overview of the U.S. Health Care System." This course is a core requirement for both the Master's in Public Health and the Master's in Health Administration degree programs at the university.
Ringgenberg uses the Guide to illustrate three key aspects of the U.S. health care system: service delivery, governance or standard-setting, and funding. She uses it to show her students how standards for the delivery of physicians' services are developed and vetted, and to help students imagine how clinicians should make decisions based on these standards. This discussion of standards and clinical decision-making leads naturally into a discussion of how third-party payers make reimbursement decisions, according to Ringgenberg.
Approximately one-third of the students taking the class are enrolled in the University's osteopathic medicine or podiatric medicine programs. Ringgenberg hopes that these students will find the Guide useful on multiple levels: as a sourcebook for their clinical training in preventive health services; as a tool for their future clinical practice; and as an illustrative textbook on the structure and function of the health care system.
Reactions to the Guide include the following student quotes:
- "As a provider I can see where it would be useful as a quick guide for screening and testing. I like the references at the end of each section...."
- "The Guide [is useful] to me in my work in primary care at the VA. We are strongly guided by preventive guidelines and requirements. [The Guide] is a useful tool for quick review when a question comes up."
- "As a consumer, I find the book [a useful source of] evidence-based information, from a trustworthy source, at quick reference, located in one book."
- "I think that the booklet should be available to people so they can start being more responsible [for] their own health."
- "Similar guides should be available each year to all students in [the] health professions. In addition, these guides should be available to hospitals, physicians, and nurses."
The Guide, which highlights current recommendations of the USPSTF, includes recommendations for screening tests, counseling, and preventive medications for adults and children in the primary care setting. The Task Force's recommendations are presented in a pocket-sized, indexed, easy-to-use format, with at-a-glance charts for clinicians to use in daily practice.