New Jersey Medical Students Use Task Force Recommendations in Community Health Projects
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine incorporates the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations in its curriculum for first- and second-year medical students. The recommendations are also introduced to students in non-classroom settings through the New Jersey Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program.
The AHRQ-funded Knowledge Transfer Program workshop "Implementing USPSTF Recommendations to Enrich Teaching" at the National AHEC Organization Conference influenced Elyse Perweiler, RN, MPP, Director of the New Jersey AHEC and Associate Director for Planning, Development, and Public Policy at the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at the University's School of Osteopathic Medicine. After attending the workshop, she began planning to incorporate the recommendations into the curriculum for medical students.
The first-year medical students' curriculum includes a 23-hour course, "Community Involved Primary Care," in which teams of students identify health needs and disparities in their assigned communities and develop a health promotion intervention project. Students are introduced to the USPSTF clinical preventive services using an AHRQ-funded PowerPoint® presentation titled "Putting Prevention Into Practice." This presentation was developed by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
Perweiler wants students to learn the USPSTF recommendations during these community-based projects, as well as in the classroom. She says, "Teaching the recommendations during this community placement involves students directly in promoting evidence-based recommendations for health and wellness in the community setting early in their medical education. It's critical to introduce this in the first year."
Perweiler continues, "In many instances, students do not have the opportunity to apply preventive measures until their clinical experience in the third year. The information should be imparted to students from the start, so it becomes second nature."
During the fall semester of the second year of the "Community Involved Primary Care" course, students implement their health promotion projects in the community. One of the guidelines for the projects is that students incorporate the USPSTF recommendations. The implementation of these projects provides students the opportunity to introduce USPSTF recommendations and tools in selected sites, including minority and underserved communities.
The University also sends students into the community—with the electronic Preventive Services Selector on their mobile devices—to work at health fairs, farmer's markets, schools, health clinics, and other settings. When possible, students present the recommendations to their clinical preceptors and support staff. By hearing and evaluating the students' presentations, preceptors are introduced to the recommendations and encouraged to use the recommendations and supporting materials with their patients.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, 2010-2011. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; September 2010. http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/pocketgd.htm
Electronic Preventive Services Selector. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://epss.ahrq.gov/PDA/index.jsp
Putting Prevention Into Practice. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/kt/ktwebcasts.htm#outtf.