Background: Studies have examined the effects of reproductive health
(RH) training on medical students but little is known about the impact of
hands-on, interactive counseling of patients.
Methods: We developed a training curriculum inclusive of the
medical, social and legal aspects of contraception and abortion. First and
second year medical students applied and were selected as RHAs. They
participated in mentored patient counseling sessions and were present during
clinical encounters. We assessed pre- and post- training knowledge and
attitudes via surveys and compared this to third year medical students
completing the standard OB/GYN clinical rotation.
significant differences between pre and post tests knowledge assessment were
noted on misidentification of LARC and emergency contraception. When comparing
students in the OB/GYN rotation to RHAs, RHA students had increased
significantly increased knowledge regarding abortion rates and identification
of emergency contraception. Based on Likert scale assessment, RHAs experienced
a significant change from baseline on their belief that abortions are safe.
The importance of patient decision making autonomy and access to abortion
was also rated higher.
Discussions: Our program resulted in increased knowledge of contraceptive
options and greater awareness of the psychosocial context of abortion care.
Meaningful benefits were derived from direct patient interactions
resulting in evolving perceptions of family planning policies. Expansion of our
model into general medical curricula would improve student training.
Keywords: Communication Skills, Counseling (Personal or
Academic), Curriculum Development/Evaluation, Leadership Organizational