Clinic Experience Influences Medical Students' Attitudes


ST. PETE BEACH, FLA. — Attending a specialized clinic for pregnant women with substance use disorders helped medical students in a recent study feel more comfortable and less judgmental when working with such patients.

A total of 104 consecutive third-year students rotating on an 8-week obstetrics-gynecology clerkship were enrolled in the study and randomized to attend or not to attend the half-day clinic. Responses to a 36-item survey administered at the start of participants' clerkship and midway through the clerkship showed significant improvements in the comfort level of clinic attendees in regard to talking with patients about smoking, alcohol use, and other substance use, William A. Ramirez-Cacho, M.D., of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and colleagues reported in a poster that was presented during the annual meeting of the Teratology Society.

The responses also demonstrated that the clinic attendees were significantly less judgmental of patients with substance use disorders and significantly more aware of multidisciplinary therapy approaches for treatment.

Control students' survey responses indicated a significant decline in comfort level when it came to discussing patients' habits, and a significant decline in awareness regarding how common substance use disorders are in this population, the investigators noted.

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