Advocacy Training and Medical Education: The CoFP

By Armide Storey, M2, Boston University School of Medicine As a medical student, it is easy to get bogged down in the every day. And it is easy, sometimes, to forget why I chose to become a doctor. For this I am most thankful for MSFC and the Conference on Family Planning. To be surrounded by peers who …

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residency-trainingMSFC believes that abortion and family planning training should be a standard part of all medical school curricula. Improving your school’s reproductive health curriculum to include these components is important work and we are here to help! Please reach out to MSFC HQ for guidance, brainstorming, and resources.

Things to Know Before You Begin:

  • Making changes to a curriculum is often a multi-year process. Be patient, and don’t let minor setbacks discourage you.
  • Stay in touch with MSFC staff. MSFC can provide you with individualized assistance and support.
  • Involve junior classmates in the process so they can carry on the work after you are gone.
  • Document the history of your efforts and share this information with MSFC HQ, other students, and the MSFC network as a whole.

Getting Started:

1) Evaluate your Curriculum

  • Identify the gaps in your curriculum by surveying fellow students and speaking to faculty.
  • MSFC has developed a baseline curriculum to help you identify deficits and set goals.
  • MSFC maintains records of past curriculum change efforts, curriculum resources, and articles to support your efforts.

2) Identify Goals

  • Do you want to get new content added to your curriculum or existing content improved?
  • Examples include getting a few slides added to an existing lecture, an entirely new lecture added, or an optional course added.
  • Where will the topic fit in the current format of your school’s curriculum?
    • At what point in the curriculum?
    • In which course?

3) Gather Support

  • Identify allies who will support your goals.
    • Supportive faculty and staff, administration, medical students, and professional students who may also populate the course or class.
    • Local clinics and providers, and other reproductive health organizations.
    • The curriculum reform committee at your school.
  • Invite others to share in your request for change.
    • Having others involved in the process means that the request comes from a group, which can make the project more sustainable.
    • Attend meetings of other organizations on your campus and share your ideas.
    • Divide tasks and research among supporters to keep them engaged with the process.

4) Research

  • Once you have a goal and the support of others, begin building your case. A case with solid and substantial evidence behind it will be more difficult for decision-makers to ignore.
  • Analyze strategies that were effective in the past, including talking with students, faculty and administration who have worked on curriculum change – both at your school and at other medical schools.
  • Show that the proposed change has support through surveys, evaluations, or petitions. Gather the information in a report.

MSFC Headquarters has a number of sample survey instruments.

5) Present Your Case

  • Compile your case into a report and share your report and proposal with key faculty and administrators, the curriculum committee, and other student groups.
  • Create a fact-sheet of your findings to give to other medical students.
  • Meet with course directors and decision-makers to discuss your findings.
  • Maintain relationships with allied student leaders, faculty, and administrators.