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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 36-49

One Year's Experience with a Program to Facilitate Personal and Professional Development in Medical Students Using Reflection Groups

1 Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, USA
2 University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, USA

Correspondence Address:
Linda Pololi
National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, 2N-45 Brody Medical Sciences Building, Greenville, NC 27858-4354
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Purpose: (1) to integrate sociobehavioral science concepts into the early curriculum through a continuity ambulatory clinical experience in primary care, and (2) to expose students to a learning environment in which self-awareness and emotional development are nurtured in the context of dealing with the stresses of an early clinical experience. Methods: Second-year students spent half a day twice monthly in a primary care community practice, kept a journal of their experiences, and attended biweekly 60-minute Reflection Groups designed to foster personal awareness and empathic witnessing. Analysis of journal entries and Reflection Group field notes identified stressors occurring during the students' clinical encounters. Results: Three sources of stress are illustrated: the role and responsibility of the physician, death and dying, and racial issues. Reflection Groups provided students with opportunities to identify and describe stressors, to feel less isolated, to begin the process of self-awareness development, and to integrate behavioral and social science concepts into clinical practice. Our program incorporates students' early clinical experience with facilitated opportunities to reflect on the emotional challenges of becoming a physician.

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