Interdisciplinary curriculum to train internal medicine and obstetrics-gynecology residents in ambulatory women's health: adapting problem-based learning to residency education

Abby L Spencer, Melissa McNeil
Journal of Women's Health 2009, 18 (9): 1369-75

OBJECTIVE: Although residents in internal medicine (IM) and obstetrics-gynecology (OG) must provide primary care for women, studies indicate that both groups require more skills and training in women's health. Our goals were to assess the needs of residents at our academic medical center and to design an interdisciplinary curriculum that addresses these needs utilizing a modified problem-based learning (PBL) format. The aim of this article is to report on the development, logistics, and successful implementation of our innovative curriculum.

METHODS: Based on results from a targeted needs-assessment, we designed a curriculum for both IM and OG residents to address curricular deficiencies in an efficient and effective manner. Procurement of support was achieved by reviewing overlapping competency requirements and results of the needs-assessment with the program directors. The curriculum consists of six ambulatory clinical cases which lead residents through a discussion of screening, diagnosis, prevention, and management within a modified PBL format. Residents select one learning objective each week which allows them to serve as content experts during case discussions, applying what they learned from their literature review to guide the group as they decide upon the next step for the case. This format helps accommodate different experience levels of learners, encourages discussion from less-vocal residents, and utilizes theories of adult learning.

RESULTS: Sixty-five residents have participated in the curriculum since it was successfully implemented. IM residents report that the cases were their first opportunity to discuss the health concerns of younger women; OG residents felt similarly about cases related to older women. Implementation challenges included resident accountability. Residents identified the timing of the sessions and clinical coverage requirements as barriers to conference attendance.

CONCLUSIONS: Interdisciplinary modified PBL conferences focusing on shared curricular needs in ambulatory women's health are well-received by both IM and OG residents. This format utilizes theories of adult learning and maximizes limited time and resources by teaching IM and OG residents concurrently, and can be successfully implemented at a large academic medical center.

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