An analysis by the Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto (ISPUP) on the curricular internships in Public Health Units carried out within the 6th year of the Integrated Master’s Degree in Medicine of the Faculdade de Medicina da U.Porto, showed that the inclusion of internships in the academic plan, helps students to better understand the scope of Public Health and its dynamics in the field, reducing their lack of knowledge regarding the specialty.
This analysis took into account the opinion of students in the 6th year of the Integrated Master’s in Medicine about the Public Health module that was first introduced in the 2018/2019 academic year.
“In this module, in addition to the three-week internship at Public Health Units, we decided to include a seminar day, then extended that to two days, in order to introduce the basic concepts of Public Health to students, a format that is not common in Portugal or in other countries”, explains Teresa Leão, first author of the article, coordinated by Henrique Barros.
The objective “was to give medical students the possibility of contacting Public Health in practice, since it is a specialty that most of them are unaware of“, emphasizes the professor and researcher at ISPUP.
The experience of students in Public Health Units
The overall assessment of the students was positive. The majority reported having better understood the importance of Public Health Units and the work of the teams that compose them, having at the same time acquired practical knowledge on fundamental areas of the specialty.
Bearing in mind that some students were unable to follow some of the core activities of the specialty in practice, such as outbreak research, the module’s program was adjusted, with the inclusion of simulations in class.
For Teresa Leão, “the evaluation of the Public Health module was frankly positive. At this moment, we already have a group of doctors who finished their general training and who got to know what is done in a Public Health Unit and the professionals who do it. This knowledge is essential to ensure greater articulation between the clinician and the public health professional. Communication between the various specialties is crucial to achieve better health outcomes”.
The authors hope that this good example can be reproduced in other medical courses in the country, since they bring gains not only to students, but also for Public Health Units themselves, who may receive new ideas and different approaches.
The article is entitled Merging academy and healthcare in the Public Health training of medical students and was published in the journal Public Health Reviews.