CONTACT: C. LINDON LARSON
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9569; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Feb. 23, 2000
Medical student brings community service curriculum to University of Iowa
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa College of Medicine is one of
six U.S. medical schools chosen to take part in a student-led curriculum reform
project organized by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA).
The Promoting, Reinforcing and Improving Medical Education (PRIME) project
aims to advance community service and cultural diversity issues within medical
curricula, fostering values that will help medical students serve others.
Tracy Reittinger, a second-year medical student from Dyersville, Iowa, was
instrumental in bringing the program to the UI.
"I thought we had a need for this program," she said, explaining
that while UI medical students take part in various volunteer service opportunities,
such experiences are not formal parts of their education. Her proposal, which
focuses on the community service component of the PRIME project, received
a $12,000 grant from AMSA.
The two-year UI project will begin this summer, enrolling 20 to 25 first-year
medical students in an elective course that will involve lectures, small group
sessions and work with local service agencies. The course will emphasize the
specific health needs of different populations -- including women, men, children,
people with disabilities and others -- and health issues arising from problems
like domestic violence and substance abuse.
The course will use a model community-responsive curriculum promoted by
AMSA that incorporates historical perspectives on community health, differing
cultural models of health and illness, personal and professional development
of medical students, and community needs assessment.
To this model, Reittinger has added an initiative that asks students to
give back some of what they learn by designing educational programs targeted
to the community groups they serve.
Though the project is a student-led effort, it has received enthusiastic
support from the College of Medicine. Marian Schwabbauer, Ph.D., assistant
dean for student affairs and curriculum at the college, assisted Reittinger
in developing her grant application. If successful, a course of this type
could become a permanent part of the UI medical curriculum.
The PRIME initiative is the latest in a string of service-oriented projects
for Reittinger, who will take part in a panel discussion at AMSA's national
convention next month in Washington, D.C. In addition to her role with the
new course, Reittinger enters the demanding third year of medical school this
summer. Fortunately, she said, "I probably do better the busier I am."
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide.