Reproductive Justice in the Bronx
By Cara Coren, MS2 at Tulane University Coming from a background in sociology and anthropology, I chose medicine as a career because I believe that health is foundational to all other social justice work. I am pursuing a combined MD/MPH because I aim to put my clinical practice in a broader context—to better understand the …
MSFC 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.
Tips for Success:
- Gather student interest. Student voices are stronger than faculty/administrative support, so show that reform is important to a wide body of students. Collect surveys and testimony.
- Prepare! Determine what is lacking in your curriculum, and then prepare the materials to address that gap. MSFC staff and your fellow members can help you with curriculum content.
- Make your proposal realistic. Propose a realistic schedule, possible time slots, and find a faculty member or physician willing to lead the lecture, if needed. The more feasible the change, the more likely administration will embrace it.
- Maintain continuity and don’t give up! Reform is often more than a one year process, which means that maintaining detailed notes is essential. Pass on this information to the next year’s student leaders and encourage them to continue your efforts.
A Plan for Curriculum Reform:
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.
- Utilize student surveys to determine what content is lacking.
3) Gather Support
- Identify allies who will support your efforts and show up to class once new material is added.
- Supportive faculty and staff, administration, medical students, and professional students who may also populate the course or class.
- 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.
- Request information from faculty and administrators on how to implement curricular changes and who you will need to petition.
4) Research and Create a Realistic Proposal
- Utilize resources provided by MSFC and ally organizations to compile information on the reproductive health topic your chapter wants included in the curriculum.
- Outline the course material so that it is functional within the existing curriculum.
- The goal is for the administration to see that a faculty member could teach the material you will propose with minimal additional work. A functional proposal will increase the chances of a successful reform effort!
- Find a faculty member who would like to teach the material. (In some instances we have seen students teach as peer learning opportunities, with a faculty member supervising.)
- Identify specific units and time slots where this new information can be inserted in the existing curriculum, and where students will be willing likely to participate.
- Collect support for the proposed change from faculty and students in a petition.
- Compile a report including the proposed curriculum change and content, scheduling options, and demonstration of support from students and faculty.
5) Present Your Case
- Present your report to key faculty and administrators, which will likely include a dean of curriculum or a curriculum committee.
- Create a fact-sheet of your findings to give to other medical students.
- Identify students who will take the lead on this project next year if necessary, and maintain detailed notes of your progress thus far to pass on to the next student leaders.
- Maintain relationships with allied students, faculty, and administrators, and update MSFC staff on your progress.