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J Grad Med Educ. 2014 Sep;6(3):547-50. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-13-00363.1.

Expanding Health Policy and Advocacy Education for Graduate Trainees.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Education in health policy and advocacy is recognized as an important component of health professional training. To date, curricula have only been assessed at the medical school level.

OBJECTIVE:

We sought to address the gap in these curricula for residents and other health professionals in primary care.

INNOVATION:

We created a health policy and advocacy curriculum for the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Center of Excellence in Primary Care Education, an interprofessional, ambulatory-based, training program that includes internal medicine residents, nurse practitioner fellows, health psychology fellows, and pharmacy residents. The policy module focuses on health care finance and delivery, and the advocacy module emphasizes negotiation skills and opinion-based writing. Trainee attitudes were surveyed before and after the course, and using the Wilcoxon signed rank test, relative change was determined. Knowledge acquisition was evaluated with precourse and postcourse examinations using a paired sample t test.

RESULTS:

From July 2011 through June 2013, 16 trainees completed the course. In the postcourse survey, trainees demonstrated improved comfort with understanding health law and the American health care system (Likert mean increased from 2.1 to 3.0, P  =  .01), as well as with associated advocacy skills (Likert mean increased from 2.0 to 2.9, P  =  .04). Knowledge-based test scores also showed significant improvement (increasing from 55% to 78% correct, P ≤ .001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Our curriculum integrating core health policy knowledge with advocacy skills represents a novel approach in postgraduate health professional education and resulted in sustained improvement in knowledge and comfort with health policy and advocacy.

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