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Clinical, research experiences benefit students considering medical school, journal report says

Release Date: October 31, 2013
Contact: Lisa Hildebrand - 608.442.3765 lisa.hildebrand@wismed.org

MADISON – (October 31, 2013) – Undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career as a physician face several obstacles to gaining quality clinical and research experience needed to make an informed decision, according to research published in the current issue of WMJ (vol. 112, no. 5). The Tobacco Science Scholars (TSS) Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH) is designed to address some of these barriers.

“Medicine is a clinical profession based in research, but undergraduates often apply to medical school with limited understanding of clinical experience and only minimal exposure to clinically relevant research,” the authors wrote.

The one-semester TSS program is designed to shepherd students through required federal patient confidentiality laws and institutional regulations, provide active-model clinical experience and provide a fully integrated research experience. Research and clinical rotations focus on tobacco-related illness to promote an experiential understanding of evidence-based medicine.

The TSS curriculum has four components: introductory training, clinical experience, research experience and a capstone presentation. The course objectives are to provide the student with access to patients in an active learning model, provide the student with access to research that will help the student understand the connection between research and clinical medicine and provide the student with a better understanding of the medical field as a possible profession.

The UWSMPH’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (CTRI) is in its second year piloting the TSS program, which is open to undergraduate students with strong academic standing and interest in becoming a physician. At the end of the semester, students are required to provide UW-CTRI staff members a clinical presentation of a patient history with a relevant pathophysiology and treatment plan and a presentation of data from smoking-related research.

In a survey about one year after completing the TSS program, students have expressed positive feedback about the course. “TSS is in its infancy, but strong student response to the program shows there is demand for this type of experience,” the authors wrote.

Published by the Wisconsin Medical Society, WMJ is devoted to the interests of the medical profession and health care in the Midwest. This peer-reviewed publication, which is available in print and electronic format, is one of the few state medical society-sponsored medical journals that publish a large amount of original research and academic content.