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Assessing Educational and Attitudinal Outcomes of a Student Learner Experience Focused on Homelessness.

Family Medicine 2023 September 9
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Patient navigation programs help guide vulnerable populations, such as those experiencing homelessness, through the health care system. Medical students developed the student-run Patient Navigator Program (PNP) to serve persons experiencing homelessness (PEH) in the Dallas area. The objective of this study was to build on previously published data to determine how medical student attitudes, knowledge, and confidence working with PEH changed during involvement in the PNP, particularly after participating as a patient navigator.

METHODS: Student fellows completed a survey prior to a training elective (time point 1), immediately after the training elective (time point 2), and after acting as a patient navigator (time point 3). The PNP survey, which intended to measure student attitudes and knowledge regarding PEH, included the Health Professionals' Attitudes Toward the Homeless Inventory (HPATHI) and the Student-Run Free Clinic Project (SRFCP) surveys. In our analysis, we compared responses among the different time points.

RESULTS: Seventy-six of 88 students who completed the training elective chose to participate in the PNP fellowship. Skills, knowledge, and self-efficacy improved from time points 1 to 2, 1 to 3, and 2 to 3. Social advocacy also improved from time points 1 to 2 and 1 to 3.

CONCLUSIONS: Improvements from time point 1 to 2 demonstrated the value of didactic learning, while further improvements from time point 2 to 3 demonstrated the added benefit of hands-on experiential learning. Our study illustrates the potential educational benefits that a PNP provides to medical students who may encounter or care for this population during their careers.

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