Blog | Friday, June 29, 2012

QD: News Every Day--Teach med students prevention so they counsel patients later

Preventive medicine isn't being taught until the final year of medical school, which leads to it not occurring more often when these students become doctors, a study concluded.

To examine the way that medical education encourages graduates to practice preventive medicine later on in their careers, medical students at 16 U.S. medical schools completed three questionnaires at the beginning of their first and third years and in their senior year. Topics included 21 preventive medicine topics, the extent of their training about them, and how often they counseled patients about those topics.

Topics included talking to patients about lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking, or taking safety measures, as well as screening tests and exams such as mammography and cholesterol screening.

At the beginning of the third year, self-reported extensive training ranged from 7% to 26% for preventive medicine topics. Topics recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force received more curricular time (median for topics: 36% if recommended versus 24.5% if not; P less than 0.025), as did topics addressed through testing rather than through more time-consuming discussion with patients (median for topics: 37% for testing and 25% for discussion, P less than 0.005).

"U.S. medical students report receiving little prevention training in their first 2 years and that the training they do remember receiving may not be markedly evidence-based," the authors wrote. "We believe that the low amounts of pre-ward prevention training occur because the first 2 years of American medical school are typically more oriented toward basic sciences than clinical medicine."