A comparison of medical student competency, attitudes and knowledge of abortion care after a structured clinical curriculum
Background: Abortion care is a core educational objective according to the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO), but clinical exposure is variable in medical education. The authors sought to compare professional competency, attitudes, and knowledge regarding abortion between students who attended a structured clinical experience in abortion care to those who chose a less-structured family planning clinical environment.Methods: All medical students participating in the
... ticipating in the Obstetrics & Gynecology clerkship from 2014-2015 were invited to complete a pre- and post-clerkship survey and grouped based on their attendance to a structured clinical abortion experience at Planned Parenthood (PPCW) versus an alternative Family Planning Clinic (FPC) experience. Self-assessed competency and attitudes about abortion were measured using a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS). Authors assessed knowledge about abortion with multiple-choice questions.Results: A total of 89 students completed the surveys (PPCW: 74; FPC: 15). Students attending PPCW were more likely to observe counseling about abortion and ultrasound prior to abortion (PPCW: 67/74, 91%; FPC: 4/15, 27%, p=<0.01). More PPWC students observed a surgical abortion (91% versus 7% of FPC students). Self-assessed competency scores improved with composite mean difference in VAS for PPCW of 42.2 mm and FPC of 27.3 mm (p=0.02). Attitude scores were unchanged in those with initial VAS <80 mm. Knowledge improved overall, with greater changes among the PPCW group.Conclusions: A structured clinical abortion experience met APGO educational objectives more than an alternative experience. Future physicians should universally be exposed to clinical abortion care in order to ensure evidence-based education about abortion.