Obstetrics Longitudinal Course

Ruth Westra, Jennifer Pearson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: In 1999, the Obstetrics Longitudinal Course began as a pilot course at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth, a mission-based campus established to serve the needs of rural and Native American communities. The course hypothesized that early exposure to obstetrics within medical school would allow students to gain awareness and increased comfort in caring for obstetrical patients. It was also hypothesized that this experience would increase the likelihood of including care of obstetrical patients in practice. Since inception, the course has been run as an elective for first-year medical students. Methods: Students are matched 1:1 with a prenatal care patient and her attending physician. Students then follow throughout prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. Seven didactic sessions at the medical school run concurrently. Results: Students submit medical documentation on visits attended. Survey results from past students (N = 268) enrolled in the course from 1999-2014 suggest success in accomplishing initial hypothesis goals. Statistical calculations applied to survey data also suggest that the odds of practicing obstetrics are higher with students who have elected to take this course, especially when eventual practice is in a rural community. A recent survey done in January 2015 best represents the results of implementation of this course. The survey study represents 254 students enrolled in the course between 1999 and 2014. The respondents contain a mix of current medical students, residents, fellows, and practicing physicians. Discussion: In Minnesota, there is a considerable need for rural family medicine physicians who include obstetrics as a part of their practice. Because attitudes about obstetrics begin early in medical education, the Obstetrics Longitudinal Course has provided an excellent opportunity for first year medical students to have exposure to this component of the practice of family medicine.


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