• Teaching Empathy: The Impact of a Service-Learning Requirement on Medical Student Attitudes, Skills, and Professional Identity

      Strand, Nicolle K. (Temple University. Libraries, 2019)
      As medical students undergo their clinical years, they exhibit a well-documented loss of idealism, increasingly negative attitudes towards poor and underserved patients, and less interest in working with these patients. Here we describe the pilot year of a longitudinal service-learning requirement implemented as a part of the medical student pre-clinical curriculum. We hypothesized that increased non-clinical contact would decrease the formation of negative attitudes towards underserved patients. Students completed service hours at assigned community sites each semester along with written reflections. Surveys were administered to track attitudes towards the underserved. Written reflections were analyzed qualitatively for thematic content as well as feedback on the experience. The requirement was largely acceptable to medical students, and many found value and enjoyment in the experience. The most common critique was that the required hours were insufficient to develop continuity, and that students desired more thorough briefing beforehand to increase their effectiveness. Students reported practicing clinical skills and communication skills. They identified social determinants of health and learned about their patients. They reflected on their professional identity, motivations for entering medicine, and specialty choices. Students experienced moments of connection and belonging, as well as feelings of guilt, otherness, and awareness of privilege. We continue to explore how working collaboratively and learning reciprocally with community members outside of the hospital and clinic may teach students cultural humility and help insulate students from cynicism and negative views of poor and medically underserved patients.