269436 Can medical students learn and apply environmental health concepts in an online course?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tatjana Walker, MPH, RD, CDE, CPH , The University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Beatriz Tapia, MD,, MPH , Senior Lecturer. Department of Family and Community Medicine, South Tx. Env. Education & Research (STEER), University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio - Harlingen Regional Academic Health Center, Harlingen, TX
Viola Elisco, BS , The University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Claudia Miller, MD, MS , The University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Physicians receive little environmental health training, with reports of less than 6 contact hours in most curricula. Despite evidence that environmental factors are causative or contributory across the lifespan in many acute and chronic medical conditions, most medical students will not enter the physician workforce with almost no training or experience in the clinical application of basic environmental public health concepts. Online training in medical/clinical environmental health may provide a cost-effective, scalable to prepare the physician workforce to recognize and address environmental health concerns with patients. Now in its second year, "Medicine and the Environment" is a 2-credit elective for 4th Year Medical Students. Students in the MD/MPH Dual Degree program (34%) also receive credit for a 3-semester credit hour elective toward the MPH. The elective is taught completely online, over 5 to 6 months and requires students to write about and discuss topics including (1) Individual Susceptibility; (2) Indoor Air/Environmental House Calls; (3) Neurodevelopment and Exposures, and (4) Taking an Exposure History (based on ATSDR training modules). Students also summarize current events in environmental health with analysis of clinical relevance, choose one of several recent books on environmental health and report on it, and finish the course with written reflection on how their learning will affect their future practice. We will list the residencies selected by students enrolling in this elective, describe quantitative and qualitative results of course evaluation surveys, and explain instructor roles and time commitments for the course.

Learning Areas:
Basic medical science applied in public health
Chronic disease management and prevention
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1. List learning objectives in an entirely online 4th year medical school elective that addresses the clinical application of environmental health across the lifespan. 2. Describe quantitative and qualitative student evaluations of the course and the qualitative data regarding shifts in beliefs about personal, professional, and community level environmental health practices. 3. Assess the overall administrative and teaching workload associated with offering an online medical/clinical environmental health course to medical students.

Keywords: Workforce, Physicians

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Research Associate with the Department of Family and Community Medicine and have earned a BS in Physiology from the University of Arizona. I have been providing research and administrative support for the dual-degree MD/MPH program for over 2 years. I have actively been involved in the implementation and organization of the program's online course, "Medicine and the Environment" for several semesters and feel very qualified to present on this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.