Bridging the Gap Between Textbook and Maternity Patient: A Nurse-Developed Teaching Model for First-Year Medical Students


  • Nancy Rumsey Cooksey BSN, IBCLC

    1. Nancy Rumsey Cooksey is a Lactation Consultant in private practice, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. She was formerly a childbirth educator and lactation consultant at Barnes Jewish Hospital and instructor of the labor and delivery component of the Perinatal Project at Washington University Medical School, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
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Address correspondence to Nancy Rumsey Cooksey, 405 Gabriel Drive, St. Louis, MO 63122, USA.


Abstract:  Background:  Providing more opportunities for first-year medical students to interact with patients in clinical settings is a current discussion topic in medical student education reform. Early clinical experience helps students bridge the gap between textbook and patient while observing patient-centered care, and serves as a first step for students to develop the skills needed to work cooperatively as members of a multidisciplinary health care team. The author developed a model to provide perinatal education to first-year medical students, consistent with the concept of interprofessional education.

Methods:  Primarily first-year medical students participated in the nurse-developed education model, a component of a noncredit extracurricular, student-run perinatal program at a Midwestern university medical center. Students were placed at the bedsides of hospitalized women to provide support and education to them during perinatal procedures, labor, childbirth, and cesarean delivery.

Results:  A total of 350 students participated over a period of 13 school calendar years. Students remarked that participation in the program reinforced the importance of their concurrent anatomy and physiology classes. They observed interdependence and cooperation among the members of the health care team caring for women, and their evaluations of their experiences at the bedside were highly positive. Women consistently expressed appreciation for the additional individualized attention and education received from our student and nurse team.

Conclusions:  Nurses can enhance the learning of first-year medical students in the maternity care clinical setting. This nurse-developed education program provided students with a variety of vivid clinical experiences with maternity patients. (BIRTH 37:4 December 2010)