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Medical Education Goes to Prison: Why?

Alemagno, Sonia A. PhD; Wilkinson, Margaret PhD; Levy, Leonard DPM, MPH

Academic Medicine:
Special Theme Article
Abstract

The authors describe a pilot medical education program that developed a new and ongoing correctional medicine curriculum for third- and fourth-year medical students at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. During the first two years of the pilot program (2000–02), a total of 53 students were placed in one-month rotations in prison health care settings. Students received orientations, directed readings, and prison clinic experience under the director of board-certified physician preceptors.

An evaluation of the pilot experience was conducted by student survey. The findings indicate that students had positive experiences related to continuity of care, access to pathology, access to procedures, and exposure to a unique managed care model. Students requested more structured curriculum and more opportunities to develop content understanding of the unique clinical aspects of prison health care. The authors conclude that given the increasing U.S. prison population, the constitutional requirement to provide medical care to inmates, and demand for career-oriented correctional physicians, the favorable outcome of this pilot educational program provides support for implementing such programs in medical schools throughout the country. They also speculate that the program may encourage some students to practice in correctional institutions as a career.

Author Information

Dr. Alemagno is associate director, Institute for Health and Social Policy, and associate professor of public administration and urban studies at the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio. Dr. Wilkinson is executive director, Consortium for Excellence in Medical Education, and assistant professor of family medicine; and Dr. Levy is associate dean for education, planning and research and professor of family medicine and public health; both at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Alemagno, Institute for Health and Social Policy, The University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-1915; e-mail: 〈alemagn@uakron.edu〉.

© 2004 Association of American Medical Colleges