Evidence-based public health education as preparation for medical school

Richard K Riegelman, David R Garr
Academic Medicine 2008, 83 (4): 321-6
The Institute of Medicine has recommended that all undergraduates have access to public health education. An evidence-based public health framework including curricula such as "Public Health 101" and "Epidemiology 101" was recommended for all colleges and universities by arts and sciences, public health, and clinical health professions educators as part of the Consensus Conference on Undergraduate Public Health Education. These courses should foster critical thinking whereby students learn to broadly frame options, critically analyze data, and understand the uncertainties that remain. College-level competencies or learning outcomes in research literature reading, determinants of health, basic understanding of health care systems, and the synergies between health care and public health can provide preparation for medical education. Formally tested competencies could substitute for a growing list of prerequisite courses. Grounded in principles similar to those of evidence-based medicine, evidence-based public health includes problem description, causation, evidence-based recommendations for intervention, and implementation considering key issues of when, who, and how to intervene. Curriculum frameworks for structuring "Public Health 101" and "Epidemiology 101" are provided by the Consensus Conference that lay the foundation for teaching evidence-based public health as well as evidence-based medicine. Medical school preparation based on this foundation should enable the Clinical Prevention and Population Health Curriculum Framework, including the evidence base for practice and health systems and health policy, to be fully integrated into the four years of medical school. A faculty development program, curriculum guide, interest group, and clear student interest are facilitating rapid acceptance of the need for these curricula.

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