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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 339-347

Teaching Children about Health, Part II: The Effect of an Academic-community Partnership on Medical Students' Communication Skills

1 The Center for Educational Outcomes at Dartmouth, USA
2 The Center for Educational Outcomes at Dartmouth; The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College; The Department of Community & Family Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, USA

Correspondence Address:
Virginia A Reed
Center for Educational Outcomes at
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Context: Partners in Health Education (PHE) is a Dartmouth Medical School elective that pairs first- and second-year medical students with local elementary school classroom teachers to provide health messages to students. The primary aim of the programme is to help medical students improve their communication skills through teaching children about health. Secondary aims are to teach children about health and the prevention of injury and disease and to support community teachers in their health promotion efforts. This report contains the results of the assessment of the programme's impact on the medical students. Methods: Sixteen first- and second-year medical students comprised the participants for the study. Students were assessed during their first and fourth teaching experiences using a variety of evaluation measures, including student surveys of expectations and perceptions; ratings of performance in the classroom by students, teachers, and classroom observers; coded videotapes of classroom teaching sessions; and performance on a measure of physician-patient communication skills. Findings: Over the course of the teaching experience, medical students' teaching and communication skills increased on a number of measures. Discussion: Programmes such as PHE can provide true service-learning experiences in which all participants benefit. Medical students can learn how to communicate about health, a set of skills they will need to become effective physicians. School children can learn about health, so they are empowered to take charge of their health and to make healthy choices.

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