Are Future Doctors Interested in International Child Health?

Geoghegan, S.F., Stenke, E., Nicholson, A.J and Molloy, E.J. (2013) Are Future Doctors Interested in International Child Health? In: 6th scientific meeting of the Irish Network of Medical Educators (INMED), 21st February to Friday 22nd February 2013, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


Introduction Worldwide over 6 million children under 5 die annually. The chance of a child surviving to 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa is 16.5 times lower than in a developed nation. Ongoing disparities in global child health emphasize the importance that future doctors in developed nations be informed on some of the major issues early in their training. AIM To survey final year medical students and their level of interest and knowledge of key topics in international child health. (ICH) METHODS We surveyed final year medical students via a questionnaire given prior to and after an hour long interactive seminar on ICH. The seminar was given by a pediatric Registrar with recent experience of working in emergency medical projects in developing nations. Problem based learning with real case examples were used as a teaching tool as well as a question and answer session. The cases covered the major contributors to under 5 mortality; childhood pneumonia, neonatology, malaria, diarrheal disease and malnutrition. In the questionnaire students were asked demographic information, perceived relevance of ICH to their degree and future careers and their knowledge of core subjects in ICH. In the post seminar questionnaire they were asked additional questions on the impact of the session on their interest in ICH. RESULTS We included 93 medical students with equal gender distribution. 86% of students were aged 18-27 years. There were 18 nationalities and 59% were non-Irish. The majority of students perceived ICH to be relevant to both their degree (80%) and future Career (69%). A high proportion of students rated their knowledge in core topics as poor or fair prior to the seminar but this significantly improved post seminar. Interest in ICH was increased in 57% of students following the seminar. CONCLUSION This survey demonstrates the interest among final year medical students in international child health but also the gaps in knowledge of some of the major contributors to child mortality. The results suggest that problem based learning with real case examples from developing nations is an effective teaching tool. International child health should be formally integrated into undergraduate pediatric curricula.

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