An Experiential Learning Approach to Population Health

The theme of the upcoming spring 2016 issue of the Ochsner Journal is Innovations in Medical Education, and the articles for the issue are currently in production. You can get a preview of the issue by clicking to one of the articles that has been posted to the Journal’s early online page: “Who’s in Our Neighborhood? Healthcare Disparities Experiential Education for Residents.”

Dr. Carl Patow, regional vice president, Clinical Learning Environment Review Program, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and colleagues tackle the challenge of how to gain an understanding of the cultural preferences and social determinants of patients from diverse populations. Such an understanding is important because these attitudes and cultural norms have a direct impact on patients’ health.

The article describes a variety of experiential education models designed to improve resident physicians’ understanding of cultural diversity and healthcare disparities. Each of the 9 models is characterized by residents’ active participation and varies in length, complexity, and resource requirements. The models were developed at 4 institutions: HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research in St. Paul, MN, Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR, University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga, TN, and Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.

Developed by education innovators, these programs show how hands-on learning activities can address specific community and program needs, and they provide a foundation for ongoing discussion of how experiential programs can be improved and expanded. As with all activities in the continuum of medical education, the goal is to give students, residents, and physicians the tools, experiences, and understanding they need to provide the best patient care.