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Development of Harvard medical student abortion training opportunities as a means of expanding abortion provision and support beyond obstetrics and gynecology

Deborah Bartz, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Project abstract

Harvard Medical School is currently undergoing major curriculum reform, which provides a unique opportunity.  Increased student exposure to abortion patients and science has the potential to improve understanding within the whole graduating medical school class, eventually increasing abortion sympathy of future physicians entering all medical specialties. This, in turn, may lead to expanded abortion provision beyond traditional ob/gyn practices, improved abortion referrals, and greater support for abortion providers from their professional peers.

The SFP Midcareer Mentorship Grant will allow me to develop, assess, and disseminate three educational initiatives in abortion training at the Harvard Medical School:

  1. The first will be to expand abortion exposure during the pre-clinical first year studies.  This will be done through an expansion of the ethics course to include reproductive health ethics.  I will also expand the classroom reproductive endocrinology course to include robust content in the science and epidemiology of abortion, complete with an interview with a real abortion patient.
  2. The second will be to create and standardize a didactic in abortion training during the second-year ob/gyn clerkship across all Harvard clinical sites.  
  3. The third will be to develop a month-long senior student course for 30-50 students that involves both a return to the classroom to study abortion academically and a clinical component that exposes more students to abortion provision.  

I will mentor medical students in the formal development and assessment of these initiatives.  Dissemination of our initiatives will allow other family planning educators to modify these activities for their own schools.


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