SRF021: Effect of Experiential Learning in Smoking Cessation for Homeless Individuals on Medical Students' Knowledge and Perceptions
Lin Guo; Thanos Rossopoulos, MD; Philip Day, PhD; Patti Pagels, MPAS, PA
Context: Educational opportunities in smoking cessation and delivering care to underserved populations are often ancillary in standard medical school curricula. Experiential learning in these areas may advance learners’ understanding and inclinations towards community health. Given the primary care physician shortage, it is important to foster an interest in the healthcare of underserved communities during medical school. Objective: To assess the impact of volunteering for a homeless smoking cessation program on medical students’ specialty interests, smoking cessation knowledge and attitudes, and willingness to work with the underserved. Human Subjects Review: IRB exempt. Study Design: Longitudinal, quantitative survey measuring the knowledge and perspectives of medical student volunteers at the beginning and at the end of their involvement in a homeless smoking cessation program. Setting: Participants are 21 self-selected UT Southwestern student volunteers who manage a weekly smoking cessation class for homeless men residing at Union Gospel Mission’s Calvert Place shelter in Dallas, TX. Instrument: A 78-item Likert scale survey gauging attitudes towards the underserved, specialty preference, and confidence delivering smoking cessation services is administered at the beginning and at the end of volunteer involvement. Outcome Measures: Numerical ratings on the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI), the Desire to Work with Underserved Population Scale, medical specialty ranking, the Smoking Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (S-KAP) measure, and Self-Efficacy score. Anticipated Results: Preliminary data (n=21) reveal a high baseline desire to work with underserved populations. Follow-up data for the first year cohort of volunteers (n=6) show no significant change in this desire after 1 year of volunteering. Self-efficacy scores in delivering smoking cessation education, however, improve (p=0.02). Data collection for the second year cohort is underway to enlarge the sample size (n=14). Self-efficacy and knowledge are anticipated to increase consistently. Interest in Family Medicine is also expected to evolve over time. Conclusions: The results of this study can help Family Medicine departments enhance medical school education in smoking cessation and healthcare for the underserved. The results also elucidate the impact of experiential learning and volunteer work on medical students’ interest and attitudes towards primary care.