University of Missouri School of Medicine MU Health School of Medicine
News Divider
Join us on Facebook!   Follow us on Twitter!   Subscribe to us!      

Students practice their communication and cultural competency skills with bilingual patient actors at the clinical simulation center in MU's School of Medicine. Training exercises such as this will become part of an enhanced medical student curriculum supported by a new grant from the National Institutes of Health. MU will use the grant to improve education in the behavioral and social sciences.

Training Grant Targets Behavioral and Social Factors Linked to Health

NIH award will help students become more culturally competent and effective physicians

It is estimated that half of all deaths in the United States are linked to behavioral and social factors such as smoking, diet and physical inactivity. Despite these causal links, of the $2 trillion spent annually on health care in the U.S., only 5 percent of that is devoted to addressing behavioral and social risk factors.

The MU School of Medicine will enhance training in behavioral and social sciences with a new $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The award will help medical students learn how to provide culturally competent care, address public health issues and become lifelong learners who are committed to professional development.

Linda Headrick
"When I went to medical school, I was trained that my job as a physician was to understand my patient's illness, determine a diagnosis and recommend a treatment," said Linda Headrick, MD, senior associate dean for education and faculty development at MU's medical school. "Now, my job doesn't stop there. In order to be an effective physician, I need to understand all factors as determinants of health."

The Institute of Medicine reviewed curricula at U.S. medical schools and developed recommendations for better training in behavioral and social sciences. While MU has implemented many of the recommendations, the new NIH grant will help students further interact with patients of different backgrounds and address social and behavioral factors that are linked to health outcomes.

For example, MU medical students are already exposed to clinical simulations that use bilingual actors who pretend to be patients. The actors simulate various health conditions, share cultural beliefs and sometimes communicate with students via an interpreter. The exercise builds communication skills so students can adapt better to patients with different languages and backgrounds. The new NIH grant will help MU's medical school make similar learning opportunities available more often during the four years that medical students train to become physicians.

The NIH grant will also expand MU's use of narrative-based learning. By writing about their experiences as physicians in training, medical students gain a better understanding of the needs of patients and families. Physicians also are encouraged to write about their interactions with patients, families and colleagues as a way to identify opportunities for improvement throughout their career.

"Narrative-based reflection encourages students to think critically about things that are important in their medical training experiences," said Headrick, leader of the grant project at MU. "Helping students develop habits of reflection using writing allows them to process experiences in a healthy way. The students learn from those experiences, and it helps them develop into the highly competent and compassionate doctors they want to become."

MU students currently record narratives during their first three years of medical school. MU's medical school also created a unique Legacy Teachers Program to recognize that patients are among the best and most memorable teachers for physicians. Each year, MU medical students participate in the Legacy Teachers Program by submitting essays, artwork or poetry that describe how patients contributed to their lifelong development. Participating patients, patient's families and students are recognized at an annual luncheon that attracts hundreds of supporters.

Indiana University School of Medicine is a collaborative partner in the new NIH grant project. Medical education leaders from both institutions will share expertise and training methods with each other. MU and Indiana University also have joined several other institutions in forming a nationwide consortium to improve behavioral and social science training in medicine.

"An exciting part of this effort is that the emphasis on behavior and social science aligns so well with the values of our school and the key characteristics of our graduates," Headrick said. "We have an opportunity with this grant to strengthen learning processes, share best practices with our partners, and help our future physicians deliver effective patient-centered care."

MU Health Magazine


News and Events

Rural Track Pipeline Program MU School of Medicine Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Rural Track Pipeline Program
Aim is to address shortage of physicians in rural areas

Gerald Meininger, PhD Professor Recognized as International Leader in Microcirculation Research
Vascular health expert recently received prestigious Kitanomaru Award in Japan

Health Sciences Research Day MU Health Students, Faculty Receive Awards at Annual Health Sciences Research Day
Event features projects from student and physician researchers

Jane McElroy, PhD Resilience-based Interventions Could Curb Depression in LGBT Youths
Researchers suggest strategies to improve mental health of young people

Erika Ringdahl, MD MU Awarded $1.1 Million to Enhance Role of Primary Care Physicians
Program will train primary care doctors to create patient-centered medical homes

Quinn Johnson Johnson Named MU
Anesthesiology Chair

Clinician educator joined University of Missouri in 2010

Vogel Taking Cholesterol Medication Before Aneurysm Repair Improves Outcomes
Patients taking statins before endovascular aortic aneurysm surgery more likely to survive

Thakkar New Finding Helps Explain Why Many Alcohol Drinkers Also Are Smokers
Knowledge may help curb alcohol and nicotine addiction

Dongsheng Duan, PhD Gene Therapy Treats All Muscles in the Body in Muscular Dystrophy Dogs
Human clinical trials are next step, MU researchers say

Peter Konig, MD Test Catches Asthma in Children Before Symptoms Appear
Researchers find common pulmonary function test can help with early diagnosis

Media Relations
University of Missouri Health System
One Hospital Drive, DC028.00
Columbia, MO 65212
24/7 on-call pager: (573) 876-0708

Mary Jenkins
(573) 882-7299

Jeff Hoelscher
(573) 884-1608

Derek Thompson
(573) 882-3323

Diamond Dixon
(573) 884-7541

Justin Kelley (Photographer)
(573) 882-5786
Pager (573) 397-9289

Web Communications
University of Missouri Health System
One Hospital Drive, MA204G, DC018.00
Columbia, MO 65212
(573) 884-0298

Laura Gerding, APR
(573) 882-9193

Velvet Hasner
(573) 884-1115

Justin Willett
(573) 884-7740

Printer Friendly
Follow us on Twitter!   Facebook   YouTube Videos   Instagram   Pinterest  
Website created and maintained by the Office of Communications. Contact the MU School of Medicine.
Revised: April 27, 2013 - Copyright © 2014 - Curators of the University of Missouri. All rights reserved. DMCA and other copyright information. An equal opportunity/access/affirmative action/pro-disabled and veteran employer.