Original Article

Attending an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting: A Pilot Study of an Experiential Learning Activity on the Family Medicine Clerkship

Authors: Marquita Samuels, MBA, Sarah E. Stumbar, MD, MPH, Suzanne Minor, MD


Objectives: Physicians frequently treat patients struggling with addiction, including alcohol abuse. The Society of Teachers of Family Medicine’s National Clerkship Curriculum lists necessary learning for all future physicians and includes several core objectives related to identifying community resources, the role of support groups in treating patients, and identifying and managing substance abuse.

Methods: During the family medicine clerkship at the Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, students learn about resources for treating alcohol abuse by attending a 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting and answering brief reflective questions about the experience. For the 2018–2019 academic year, students completed an anonymous, optional, computer-based, pre-/postactivity survey to assess the students’ perceived impact of attending an AA meeting.

Results: After the AA meeting, there was an increase in the percentage of students who agreed or strongly agreed that AA meetings are a useful resource. Students perceived that they would be likely to refer a patient with alcohol abuse to AA in the future, were confident in their ability to explain AA to a patient, were knowledgeable about community resources for patients with alcohol addiction, and were confident in their ability to assess patients for alcohol abuse.

Conclusions: Attendance at a single AA meeting increased students’ awareness of community resources, including AA, for patients who abuse or misuse alcohol. Because students also reported increased perceived self-confidence regarding explaining AA to patients and assessing patients for alcohol addiction, attendance at an AA meeting has the potential to affect future patient care.

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