Student-Perceived Preparedness in Contraceptive and Abortion Counseling
Embargo Lift Date
Project Background: Upwards of 25% of women will seek an abortion by age 45; however, 17% of accredited American medical schools lack any formal abortion-related curriculum, and only 50% offer a clinical elective exposing students to abortion counseling and procedures. The gap between the large number of women seeking this care and the small amount of curriculum designed to prepare students to effectively counsel and provide this care is stark, and it represents an urgent area of study and curriculum re-design. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional survey of students at all levels of medical training to assess student-perceived level of preparedness to provide non-directive counseling on reproductive health topics, such as contraception and abortion. Preparedness was measured on a 6-point preparedness scale (1=very unprepared and 6=very prepared). Mean scores were analyzed as a whole and stratified by training level. We also performed a comparative analysis of the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO) abortion-related learning objectives (LOs) and the corresponding LOs in our didactic reproductive health course curriculum at our institution. Results: Our preliminary survey population (n=57) included majority female (66.7%) and underclassmen (MS1 = 42.1%, MS2 = 31.6%), and varied in intended specialty. Mean preparedness to provide contraception and abortion counseling score was 2.26±0.55. When stratified to include only students in their clinical years (MS3/4, dual degree), mean preparedness score only slightly increased to 2.97±0.75. Our curriculum analysis revealed that LOs from our didactic reproductive health course covered all 5 APGO LOs on Family Planning, but did not cover 2 of the 4 APGO LOs on Pregnancy Termination. Conclusions: We identified gaps in our institution’s Pregnancy Termination curriculum, as defined by the nationally recognized APGO LOs. We also identified that current didactic and clinical training at our institution inadequately prepares medical students to provide comprehensive reproductive health counseling to women, based on mean self-reported preparedness scores. The next step is to disseminate a more in-depth survey from Feb-Mar 2021 to the same student population to further evaluate student perceptions about preparedness for reproductive health counseling compared to preparedness to counsel about hypertension management to determine whether student preparedness in family planning significantly lags preparedness in other areas of medicine. Our ultimate goal is to positively influence curriculum enhancement in comprehensive reproductive health care at our institution.