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Medical Education, Medical Schools, Research, Sexual Health

Med students want more sexual-health training

Speaking of sexual health, a new study from University of California-San Francisco shows that medical students may be in need of additional training in this area. In a survey of 2,261 U.S. and Canadian students, a large majority (81 percent) answered that they would or do “feel comfortable talking to patients about their sexual practices and problems” – yet 53 percent still said they “felt inadequately trained to deal with sexuality in the clinical context.”

Referencing a 2003 study showing that most U.S. and Canadian medical schools provided students with 3-10 hours of training (and that less than half offered a clinical program specific to the treatment of sexual problems), researchers said there’s room for improvement. As the Health Blog’s Katherine Hobson writes:

[Alan Shindel, first author on the study and now an assistant professor of urology at U.C. Davis] says there’s a need for a more universal set of standards for what should be taught in med school. Ideally, he says, that kind of curriculum “would be multidisciplinary, drawing on the expertise of psychiatry, urology, OB-GYN and family medicine,” and would also include sociology and anthropology. Shindel is part of an International Society for Sexual Medicine group working to draft principles for a curriculum that could be used worldwide.

Med schools do a pretty good job on the nuts and bolts of reproduction and of sex-related illnesses and conditions. “But what I think needs to be incorporated is the notion of sex in and of itself, not just as a vector of infection and pregnancy,” he says.

The study appears in the journal Academic Medicine.

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