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Fostering Transformative Learning in a Social Pediatrics Research Summer Studentship

Talarico, Susanna, MD, FRCPC, MScCH; Zubairi, Mohammad, MD, MEd, FRCPC; Daneman, Denis, MBBCh, FRCPC, DSc(Med); Punnett, Angela, MD, FRCPC; Martimianakis, Maria Athina (Tina), PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002597
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Problem Teaching future doctors the skills necessary to address health disparities is a challenge for medical educators. In response, the authors developed and implemented the Social Pediatrics Research Summer Studentship (SPReSS) program for medical students at the University of Toronto.

Approach The curriculum incorporated research and clinical placements into a formal seminar series. Participating students were required to complete a research project and to write a reflection describing a situation that challenged their thinking. The authors and curriculum developers applied transformative learning principles not only to facilitate critical reflection and learning in the students but also as an innovative approach to program development and evaluation. The authors conducted a thematic analysis of the reflections of 23 students participating in the program in June and July 2013, 2014, and 2015 to evaluate the SPReSS program.

Outcomes The analysis revealed students’ empathic responses to marginalized patients, and these responses acted as triggers for critical reflection. Students described feeling empowered to act as advocates and wrote that these feelings were reinforced through faculty members’ role modeling. According to their reflections, students found the program both challenging and rewarding, particularly the integration of the clinical and research experiences which made broader sociopolitical phenomena introduced through assigned readings and seminar discussions concrete.

Next Steps The authors are exploring models, including a fourth-year selective or multiyear longitudinal experience, to support more students. They also hope to involve more community partners and to evaluate long-term outcomes of participants.

S. Talarico is assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, and pediatrician, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

M. Zubairi is assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, and developmental pediatrician, Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

D. Daneman is professor and chair emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, and pediatric endocrinologist, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

A. Punnett is associate professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, and pediatric oncologist, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

M.A. (Tina) Martimianakis is associate professor and director, Medical Education Scholarship, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, and scientist and associate director, international and partnerships, Wilson Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2531-3156.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Ethical approval for this study was provided by the Research Ethics Boards at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on October 20, 2014; reference number 1000045529

Previous presentations: The Ottawa Conference, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 2014; Pediatric Academic Societies Conference, San Diego, California, April 2015; and the Canadian Pediatric Society Conference, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 2014.

Correspondence should be addressed to Susanna Talarico, Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Ave., Toronto, Ontario, M5G1A5, Canada; e-mail: susanna.talarico@sickkids.ca; Twitter: @Sickkids.

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges