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J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 1999 Nov;8(9):1195-201.

Assessing the need for faculty development in women's health among internal medicine and family practice teaching faculty. The Women's Health Education Working Group (WHEWG).

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, USA.


Women's health education is an emerging interdisciplinary field that has recently received national attention. The American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Academy of Family Practice recently have published competencies in women's health for their residents, with increased attention to gynecological and mental health issues. Increasing women's health in the curricula of internal medicine (IM) and family practice (FP) residents will certainly require faculty development among IM and FP teaching faculty. We report a multiinstitution needs assessment among IM and FP teaching faculty for continuing medical education (CME) in multidisciplinary women's health topics. The survey (n = 100) asked whether faculty desired CME in 30 women's health topics. It also requested rates of referral to specialists for breast and menstrual problems and performance of tests commonly carried out in the care of women (e.g., endometrial biopsy, colposcopy, skin biopsy, and sigmoidoscopy) as measures of possible need for CME. Of the 69 respondents, 37% were IM physicians and 63% were FP physicians. Among the 30 women's health topics listed, breast cancer treatment alternatives, infertility for primary care providers, cervical dysplasia, medical treatment in pregnancy, vulvar disease, indications for pelvic ultrasound/endometrial biopsy, and menstrual disorders were of highest interest. The ranking of desirability of topics by IM and FP faculty correlated by .54 (Spearman rank, df = 28, p < 0.01). Analysis of variance revealed a significantly higher interest overall by IM than FP physicians, 58% vs. 42% (F = 4.1, df = 1, 50, p < 0.05). None of the IM teaching faculty performed endometrial biopsy or colposcopy compared with 57% of FP physicians, and only 12.5% of internists performed skin biopsy and sigmoidoscopy compared with 70% of FP physicians (F = 33, df = 1, 38, p < 0.001). We conclude that faculty development in women's health would benefit resident training in IM and FP, and topics of interest are identifiable. The correlation in interests between the IM and FP teaching faculty might make joint programs successful, although gynecological skills and knowledge clearly are needed more by IM teaching faculty. Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) faculty could be instrumental in improving women's health education among their IM and FP colleagues.

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