SRF006: Assessing the Factors that Influence Medical Student’s Attitudes Towards Working with Underserved Communities

Katherine Cantu; Ashley Farley; Thanos Rossopoulos, MD; Courtney Johnson, BS


Context: The number of physicians willing to work in underserved areas in the United States is decreasing. Studies utilizing the Medical Student Attitudes Towards Underserved (MSATU) questionnaire have shown a decrease in medical students’ attitudes towards working with underserved populations as they progress through their medical education. More recent data collected by the AAMC suggests a more positive shift, with the percentage of graduating medical students who plan to care primarily for an underserved population increasing from 28.2% in 2015 to 36.1% in 2019. In order to support this positive change, it is important to understand what factors influence students throughout their training. Objective: To examine medical student attitudes towards underserved populations, with a specific focus on variables and experiences that promote more positive attitudes towards working with this group. Study Design: Six year quasi-experimental longitudinal design Population Studied: Medical trainees throughout medical school and residency Setting: UT Southwestern Medical School. Instruments: A survey questionnaire of existing validated instruments MSATU, Leadership Self-efficacy (LSES), modified Interprofessional Attitudes Scale (IPAS), and Empathy as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), baseline demographics and information about experiential learning activities; administered at different time points during training. Main and Secondary Outcome Measures: Primary: MSATU; anticipated specialty and actual career outcome; experiential learning activities including most meaningful. Secondary: LSES; attitudes towards interprofessional teams as measured by the IPAS; Empathy as measured by the IRI. Anticipated Results: Baseline data for the first year is currently being collected (anticipated n=50), and it is hypothesized that those that enter with greater baseline experiences in underserved communities will have higher baseline proclivities to working in underserved communities Conclusions: We seek to identify factors that are common among participants with more favorable attitudes towards working with underserved populations. By identifying these experiences and learning components, medical educators would be able to tailor opportunities available to students during training in order to prepare the future healthcare workforce to respond passionately to complicated healthcare needs.
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Jack 11/21/2020

great study. we are excited to learn more as you move forward. thanks

Judy Belle Brown

What an important study and very ambitious!! Congrats!!

Bill Phillips 11/23/2020

Essential topic. Interested in your next steps. (Hope to see them here at NAPCRG next year.) In our PNW region of the US, where primary care, Family Medicine and rural/underserved education has been highlighted for decades, I have the inverse worry, as well. Family Medicine has become so closely associated with care of the underserved that students interested in PC for more mainstream populations are often made to feel unwelcome.

Carolyn Gaspar

Interesting research! This aligns with my dissertation study where we are developing a survey measure to explore health care providers attitudes and causal beliefs of inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada to identify predictor factors of these attitudes and causal beliefs to identify and develop opportunities for learners to change their attitudes, beliefs and commitment to equitably serve Indigenous peoples' in Canada.

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