Background: The limited exposure to clinical medicine during the
first two years of school, in addition to the rapid rotations within clinical
clerkships, does not allow for students to form a true patient-doctor
relationship until at least residency. Exposure to this relationship
early will better prepare students for their careers as physicians.
Methods: We have created a self-guided, student-centered
program in which students are able follow a gynecological oncology patient over
the course of their surgeries, clinic visits, and radiation or chemotherapy
treatments. Students were given a pre and post program questionnaire to
assess their development and attitudes towards longitudinal patient care and
were also required to document their visits and personal observations for each
time they saw their patient.
Results: By the end of the program students became familiar
with gynecological oncology but also gained valuable personal insight. They saw
firsthand what their patients were experiencing not only from a medical
education standpoint, but also from an interpersonal one. Students were
also able to assess outside factors in cancer treatment such as family support,
patient adherence, and empathy within a medical setting.
Discussions: Should a greater emphasis be placed on patient care
within the first two years of medical school? Could this be instituted
within the existing basic science curriculum? Students who participated
in this program said that they believe they are better prepared for clerkships
due to the unique experiences gained without this program.
Keywords: Oncology, Longitudinal, Relationships