The teaching and learning of health advocacy in an Australian medical school
Objectives: To determine if medical graduates from an Australian university are educated and skilled in health advocacy for their future practice with patients and the wider community.
Methods: The authors used an exploratory mixed methodology starting with curriculum mapping of the medical curriculum, followed by key informant interviews with the University of Notre Dame, School of Medicine academics (n = 6) and alumni (n = 5) on teaching/learning and practice of health advocacy. The final stage consisted of a cross-sectional survey on teaching/learning health advocacy among third and fourth (final) year medical students (N = 195).
Results: The medical curriculum contained no explicit learn-ing objectives on health advocacy. Key informant interviews demonstrated an appreciation of health advocacy and its importance in the medical curriculum but a deficit in explicit and practical ‘hands on’ teaching. Survey response rate was 47% (n = 92). A majority of students (76%, n = 70) had heard of health advocacy, with this being more likely among third (92%, n = 33) compared with fourth year students (67%, n = 37) (Fisher’s Exact Test χ2 (2, N = 91) = 7.311, p = 0.02). Stu-dents reported having opportunities to observe (76%, n = 70) and practise health advocacy (50%, n = 46) in the curriculum.
Conclusions: Students and medical graduates demonstrated sound recognition of the term health advocacy. Deficits identified in the curriculum include lack of explicit learning objectives and “hands-on” learning opportunities in health advocacy.