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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 163-168

Improving breastfeeding medicine in undergraduate medical education: A student survey and extensive curriculum review with suggestions for improvement

1 Department of Pediatrics, Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, NE 68178; Department of Pediatrics, Phoenix Children's Hospital, Phoenix, AZ 85016, USA
2 Department of Pediatrics, Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, NE 68178; Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
3 Department of Pediatrics, Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, NE 68178; Department of Pediatrics, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ 85013, USA

Correspondence Address:
Erin E Birmingham
Children's Corporate Center, 999 N. 92nd St., Suite 730, Milwaukee, WI 53226
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_180_15

Background: Breastfeeding education should be incorporated routinely into medical school curricula. Despite strong evidence supporting exclusive breastfeeding of infants, lack of physician education has continued to undermine the practice of breastfeeding. Protecting and supporting breastfeeding should be a public health priority as it has the potential to save billions of dollars in health care and also provide the most benefit to the newborn infant. The purpose of this article was to evaluate how the United States undergraduate medical institution incorporates breastfeeding medicine into its curriculum and to suggest modifications that will improve breastfeeding education at all undergraduate medical institutions. Methods: The authors performed an in-depth review of the undergraduate medical curriculum at the United States medical institution. Course requirements and lectures were compared with the 12 knowledge-based and 12 skill-based competencies that the authors suggest all medical students should possess. In addition, the authors sent out an electronic survey to 600 medical students at the same institution to assess current students understanding and comfort with basic breastfeeding topics. Results: Students in the preclinical years are only learning 3 of the 12 knowledge-based competencies and 1 of the 12 skill-based competencies. Students in the clinical years are learning 5 of the 12 knowledge-based competencies and 9 of the 12 skill-based competencies. Survey results showed that the majorities of medical students were not comfortable with basic breastfeeding medicine and guidance. Discussion: The authors recommend several curriculum changes to advance breastfeeding education. A more targeted breastfeeding curriculum in medical education will help to improve physician knowledge, practice patterns, and confidence in breastfeeding management.

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