Original Article

Integrating Women’s Health Education into the Internal Medicine Residency Program Curriculum

Authors: Sneha Shrivastava, MD, Anshul Gandhi, PhD, Abby L. Spencer, MD, MS


Objectives: National guidelines and the American Board of Internal Medicine have highlighted critical areas of women’s health (WH) that are important to the training of Internal Medicine (IM) residents. Our objective was to assess and improve WH education in a large academic community-based IM residency program.

Methods: An anonymous online survey was sent to IM residents to assess their perceived comfort, knowledge, and importance, and exposure to 34 WH topics identified as critical to the training of an internist. To meet the critical learning needs of our residents, a new longitudinal WH curriculum was designed using active instructional methods. Retrospective pre-post surveys were conducted after interactive education workshops to measure their effectiveness.

Results: IM residents identified 13 of 34 WH topics that were critically important to their training. Of these, residents believed they had insufficient clinical exposure to prescribing contraceptives, evaluating breast symptoms, managing menopause, performing Papanicolaou tests and pelvic examinations, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Residents identified osteoporosis as their single greatest learning need. There was a strong and statistically significant correlation between residents’ knowledge, comfort, and clinical exposure to WH topics. In response to these findings, the curricular methods we developed, such as problem-based learning workshops, multidisciplinary case conferences, and small-group case discussions, were found to be effective.

Conclusions: Our study highlighted significant gaps in our WH curriculum. Based on our findings, we redesigned our educational and experiential WH curriculum to augment knowledge, comfort, perceived importance of, and exposure to areas of need. Enhancing education and increasing clinical exposure to fundamental WH issues will promote higher quality care for women patients.

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