Herrmann, Lynn K.
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions
Service-learning is a form of experiential learning that allows students to combine knowledge acquired in the classroom with community-level experiences. In medical education, service-learning provides medical students the opportunity to apply clinical knowledge to health-related experiences within communities in an effort to prepare them to address the health needs of communities after they graduate. Research shows that without service-learning opportunities, some medical students may lack a level of compassion and empathy that is necessary to treat medically underserved patients.
A secondary data analysis was conducted using 4th-year medical students’ survey responses on the Association of American Medical Colleges Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) tool from graduation years 2015 to 2018. The goal of this study was to determine the relationship between participation in community-level service-learning activities and a career plan to practice in underserved areas after graduation among 4th-year medical students. Additionally, the study sought to determine whether age, race/ethnicity, gender, and medical school regional location were factors that could predict a 4th-year medical student’s career intention to work in underserved areas.
The analysis of 61,708 4th-year medical student responses to the Association of American Medical Colleges Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) tool revealed a significant difference in the level of participation in four specific community-level service-learning experiences and a career plan (yes, no, undecided) to practice in underserved areas among 4th-year medical students. The four experiences included a health education experience; health disparities experience; community-based research project experience; and free clinic, underserved population experience. Medical students who indicated a career plan to work in underserved areas had, on average, 2.75 service-learning experiences compared to those who did not indicate a career plan or were undecided (2.11 and 2.41 respectively). The numeric ranking from the highest number of community-level service-learning experiences (2.75) to the lowest number of community-level service-learning experiences (2.11) suggests that the more community-level service-learning experiences a medical student had, the greater the likelihood that he or she indicated a career plan to practice in an underserved area postgraduation.
The findings of this study also provide statistical evidence that there is a weak, but significant correlation between each demographic factor of age, race/ethnicity, gender, school region location, and the plan to practice in underserved areas. When these factors were examined along with level of participation in service-learning experiences, all were significant predictors of the decision to practice in underserved areas. While the factors of age, race/ethnicity, gender, school region location, and participation in community-level service-learning only accounted for a small percentage of the total decision of a 4th-year medical student to practice in an underserved area, the proportion of the students’ decision explained by this model is significant.
These results provide useful information to assist medical school administrators to support offering service-learning opportunities during medical school as viable a strategy to increase the number of medical school graduates who make the choice to practice in underserved communities after graduation.
Mobley, Felicia Bolden, "The Relationship Between Participation in Community-Level Service-Learning and Career Plans to Practice in Underserved Areas Among 4th-Year Medical Students" (2019). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 7457.
Northern Illinois University
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