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When do students learn about contraception and abortion care? A survey of family medicine clerkship directors

Purpose: To assess contraception and abortion education during preclinical medical education and the family medicine (FM) clerkship.


Background: Contraception and abortion are common medical experiences accessed by millions of women annually.  Students will encounter these topics outside of the obstetrics and gynecology clerkship.


Methods: In May 2021, we assessed family planning education during medical school as part of the Council of Academic Family Medicine’s Educational Research Alliance survey of family medicine clerkship directors. This national survey is distributed annually to clerkship directors at US and Canadian allopathic medical schools, who oversee FM clerkships. We evaluated associations between medical school characteristics and the presence of contraception and/or abortion education during preclinical education and the FM clerkship.


Results: Forty-four percent of clerkship directors provided complete responses (71/160).  Almost half (35/71) reported preclinical contraception education and 45/71 (63%) reported contraception education during the FM clerkship.  In contrast, less than a third indicated preclinical abortion education (21/71, 30%) and 13/71 (18%) reported abortion education during the FM clerkship.  Clerkship directors in the Northeast and West reported abortion care education more often than those in the South or Midwest (p=0.006).  All Canadian institutions reported preclinical abortion education.  The presence of contraception and abortion education did not differ by public vs private school designation, medical class size, or clerkship director’s assessment of the medical school’s support for family planning education.  


Discussions: Contraception and abortion care education is inconsistently available to medical students in the preclinical and FM clerkship curriculum.  Educators should ensure medical students obtain education on this common healthcare experience. 

Topics: CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting, 2022, Faculty, Clerkship Director, Medical Knowledge, UME, Assessment, Public Health, Contraception or Family Planning,

General Information

Faculty,Clerkship Director,
Medical Knowledge,
Assessment,Public Health,
Clinical Focus
Contraception or Family Planning,

Author Information

Valerie French, MD, MAS, University of Kansas; Sharon Wolff, MPH; Laurel Witt, MD, M.Phil; Hannah Moran

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