U-M Medical School doctoring course leads initiative to incorporate DEIAJ principles with student learning

June 14, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

The U-M Medical School’s doctoring course provides foundational knowledge and skills necessary to become a thoughtful physician.

Throughout the first year, medical students participate in facilitated small groups. In addition to teaching physical exam skills, communication skills and clinical reasoning, the groups offer multiple opportunities for students to explore their individual worldviews through the lens of patient care across topics such as health disparities, social justice and ethics.

In response to community calls for greater diversity and social justice, and supported by the AAMC Statement on Dismantling Racism in Academic Medicine, doctoring faculty leadership began a months-long process to enhance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access & Justice (DEIAJ) across the course.

David A. Stewart, M.D., assistant professor in pediatric hospital medicine and doctoring course assistant Director is faculty lead for the planning in collaboration with Meg Dobson, M.D., assistant professor in family medicine, doctoring course assistant director and faculty lead for DEIAJ efforts in the Office of Medical Student Education (OMSE). 

The robust review and revision of doctoring content process engages small groups of students and faculty. Karri Grob, Ed.D., content expert in DEIAJ Educational Framing, also engages to support consistent application of an inclusive, anti-racist and social justice lens.

The project teams reviewing the course will often need to consider and discuss questions such as “Is this language racist?” and “Does this reinforce structural racism?”

Each member of the group (faculty and students) brings in different levels of understanding and experience with these topics. The teams’ diversity of backgrounds and opinions strengthens the review process, ensuring breadth and depth of knowledge across the multiple, intersecting domains represented in each packet.

“It is powerful to see motivated students and faculty come together with their experiences and expertise to develop robust, innovative, reflective content,” Stewart said. “Making space for folx to deliberately work to improve curricular content for our learners and faculty facilitators is invigorating.”

Phase 1 reviews were completed for specific packets during the 2021-22 academic year. Phase 2 reviews will begin this summer and include: cardiac Hx, adherence and financial considerations, professionalism, spirituality and religious identity, trauma informed care, LGBTQ health, sexual history and caring for patients with disabilities.

Thoughtful engagement with these topics helps students explore their professional identity through critical self-reflection and critical reflection on the complexities of treating diverse, heterogenous patient populations. As medical students engage with a patient-centered, social justice lens, they will develop the dispositions and skills to ameliorate health disparities in their future practice.