Medical Students for Mental Health: Curriculum Development and Review for a JABSOM Community Health Program

Kanja, Kassidy
Teruya, Melanie
Taniguchi, Evan
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Context First-year medical students at JABSOM are required to participate in a Community Health Program. One such program founded in 2018, Medical Students for Mental Health (MSMH), focuses on serving individuals with mental health illnesses and promoting community advocacy related to mental health. Students co-led groups and provided therapeutic socialization for patients at the Hawaii State Hospital (HSH). In March 2020, MSMH transitioned to a partnership with the United Self Help (USH), an organization which facilitates peer-led self-help groups for persons with mental illness. In May 2020, second-year medical students were invited to become leaders for MSMH to recruit, mentor and supervise first-year medical students. In 2021, MSMH created an additional partnership with McKinley High School to introduce high school students to mental health topics through a Problem-Based Learning case. Psychiatry residents have led training and didactics for medical students in MSMH. Objectives - Outline the MSMH curriculum and relevant changes - Analyze whether MSMH provides a meaningful volunteer experience for medical students in serving vulnerable populations and increasing community awareness regarding mental health - Evaluate how participation in MSMH affects medical student competencies including interpersonal communication, self-evaluation, cultural competence, and knowledge of medicine and human behavior - Assess the impact of MSMH medical student interest in mental health and specialty choices - Compare the experiences of students involved in MSMH in different academic years to evaluate the efficacy of didactics, training and supervision for students engaging in clinically-based service Key Message MSMH gathers feedback from medical students through monthly meetings with program leaders, surveys conducted by JABSOM, quarterly reflection essays and a 2021 survey offered to all current and past MSMH students. While at HSH, medical students initially reported concerns including lack of a clear service role and a mismatch between clinical severity and level of training. Since transitioning to USH, students have reported an improved service experience and self-evaluated competencies as above. MSMH training has transitioned from didactics focused on safety, de-escalation and other inpatient psychiatry topics to a psychotherapy-informed training. Second-year students, along with resident leaders, have led group supervision and training and managed elective logistics, experiences which reportedly positively impacted their leadership and teaching skills. COVID-19’s impact on the mental well-being of children and adolescents led second-year student leaders to expand the MSMH curriculum to a public school setting. Conclusion Changing service roles has generally improved student service experiences and self-assessed competencies while creating new training needs and challenges. While students reported an increased interest in mental health and felt well equipped to navigate conversations about mental health issues, early feedback is mixed regarding how MSMH has affected long-term career choices. A planned site expansion may expose students to a wider breadth of mental health topics and settings and facilitate the development of core competencies while continuing to provide a meaningful experience in serving individuals with mental illness and increasing awareness and education regarding mental health issues. Target Audience Any educational professional interested in current service-based activities for students in mental health.
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