Diabetes SPECIAL (Students Providing Education on Chronic Illness and Lifestyle): a novel preclinical medical student elective

Marina A. Seidel
Nicholas R. Bender
Ruth S. Weinstock
Sarah E. Myers
Soort article
Show and Tell
Diabetes education,
Medical student education,
Preclinical electives,
Verscheen in

Background Traditional medical student curricula limit substantial clinical experiences until the third and fourth years of medical school. This delay in valuable experiences hinders the ability of some medical students to choose a specialty to pursue, delays the formation of meaningful longitudinal mentorship relationships, and limits the development of important clinical acumen. Furthermore, the use of medical students in preclinical years may help to improve patient care and outcomes.

Approach The novel preclinical Diabetes SPECIAL (Students Providing Education on Chronic Illness and Lifestyle) elective was designed to introduce first year medical students to the field of endocrinology, promote the development of a professional identity, improve medical student communication skills, and raise awareness of the complexities of managing patients living with diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, and novel to this experience, was to measure the impact of this elective on patient outcomes.

Evaluation Students attended patient appointments, communicated with their assigned patients regularly, relayed important health information to the attending endocrinologist, and attended monthly didactic sessions. The elective outcomes were evaluated via completed surveys by patients, students, and attending physicians as well as medical record review for pre- and post-elective hemoglobin A1C levels.

Reflection Students, faculty, and patients who participated in this elective generally reported having a positive experience. Seven out of 10 patients had a reduction in their hemoglobin A1C levels.


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