The population health performance of medical students at two medical schools

Anne C Gill, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Public Health and medicine are complimentary disciplines dedicated to the health and well-being of humankind. Worldwide, medical school accreditation bodies require the inclusion of population health in medical education. In 2003, the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) recommended that all medical students receive basic public health training in population-based prevention. The purpose of this study was to (1) examine the public health clinical performance of third-year medical students at two independent medical schools, (2) compare the public health clinical practice performance of the schools, and (3) identify underlying predictors of high and low public health clinical performance at one of the medical schools. This study is unique in its analysis and report of observed medical student public health clinical practices. The cohort consisted of 751 third-year medical students who completed a required clinical performance exam using trained standardized patients. Medical student performance scores on 24 consensus public health items derived from nine patient cases were analyzed. The analysis showed nearly identical results for both medical schools at the 60%, 65%, and 70% pass rate. Students performed poorly on items associated with prevention, behavioral science, and surveillance. Factors associated with high student performance included being from an underrepresented minority, matching to a primary care residency, and high class ranking. A review of medical school curriculum at both schools revealed a lack of training in four public health domains. Nationally, 32% of medical students reported inadequate training in public health in the year 2006. These findings suggest more dedicated teaching time for public health domains is needed at the medical schools represented in this study. Finally, more research is needed to assess attainment of public health knowledge and skills for medical students nationwide if we are to meet the recommendations of the IOM.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Gill, Anne C, "The population health performance of medical students at two medical schools" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3283607.