Abortion: When Politics Meets Practice
By Alana Cartens For most of my life I have danced around the sidelines of the reproductive justice movement, always supporting, but more actively involved in work around racial justice and international human rights. Attending the Medical Students for Choice Conference on Family Planning last December shifted my focus to see how, in many ways, …
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.
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.
1) Evaluate your Curriculum
- Identify the gaps in your curriculum.
- MSFC has developed a baseline curriculum and a set of learning objectives to help you identify deficits and set goals.
- Work with students in different years to get a better picture of what is and isn’t offered on your campus.
- MSFC maintains records of past curriculum change efforts, curriculum resources, and articles to support your efforts.
2) Choose a Plan
Your initial goal can be revisited and edited as the process unfolds, but will provide you with a solid idea to which to refer when talking to others about your efforts.
- Which reproductive health topic would you like to add or improve in your current curriculum?
- Where will your topic fit in the current format of your curriculum?
- At what point in the curriculum?
- In which course?
- Identify allies.
- 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
3) Invite others to share in your request for change
Having others involved in the process means that the request comes from a group, which may help to diffuse any potential antagonism if you meet resistance. It also makes 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.
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.
- Talk with students, faculty and administration who have worked on curriculum change in the past – both at your school and at other medical schools.
- Contact MSFC staff for examples of curriculum reform processes that were successful at other schools.
- Show that the proposed change has support.
- Conduct an interview or survey of students.
- Review evaluations of clinical rotations.
- Distribute a petition.
- Compile and summarize all results into an informal report.
- Ensure that any additions to the curriculum will be offered at a time when students are available and that there are students willing to participate if the addition is an elective.
MSFC Headquarters has a number of sample survey instruments.
Spread your findings to people in a position to make change.
- 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.