Description of a Research-Based Health Activism Curriculum for Medical Students

Medical professional organizations have called on physicians to be activists in reforming health care systems, yet few curricula train medical students to engage in health system reform. The authors of this article designed a one-month curriculum in research-based health activism and recruited students from across the country and faculty from a wide range of disciplines. Twenty-six participating students completed pre- and post-course surveys used to assess curriculum expectations, session objectives, instructor quality, success at meeting educational objectives and career goals. All 26 students “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the curriculum taught them how to generate a research question, design a research proposal and create an advocacy plan. Significantly, after the course more students intended to pursue careers that “significantly” involved research than before taking it. Students, however, need support to preserve their enthusiasm for being physician activists. Future efforts should build on this success by expanding and spreading health activism curricula.