Web-based Curriculum

A Practical and Effective Strategy for Teaching Women's Health


  • There are no conflicts of interest by the authors.

  • This work was presented in part as an innovation in medical education at the 25th Annual SGIM Meeting, Atlanta, GA, 2002 and as two scientific posters at the 26th Annual SGIM Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2003.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Zebrack: Medical College of Wisconsin, Zablocki Veterans Affairs, 5000 W. National Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53295 (e-mail: jjzebrack@aol.com).


Objective: To address the need for women's health education by designing, implementing, and evaluating a self-study, web-based women's health curriculum.

Design: Cohort of students enrolled in the ambulatory portion of the medicine clerkship with comparison group of students who had not yet completed this rotation.

Participants/Setting: Third- and fourth-year medical students on the required medicine clerkship (115 students completed the curriculum; 158 completed patient-related logs).

Intervention: Following an extensive needs assessment and formulation of competencies and objectives, we developed a web-based women's health curriculum completed during the ambulatory portion of the medicine clerkship. The modules were case based and included web links, references, and immediate feedback on posttesting. We discuss technical issues with implementation and maintenance.

Measurements and Main Results: We evaluated this curriculum using anonymous questionnaires, open-ended narrative comments, online multiple-choice tests, and personal digital assistant (PDA) logs of patient-related discussions of women's health. Students completing the curriculum valued learning women's health, preferred this self-directed learning over lecture, scored highly on knowledge tests, and were involved in more and higher-level discussions of women's health with faculty (P<.001).

Conclusions: We present a model for the systematic design of a web-based women's health curriculum as part of a medicine clerkship. The web-based instruction resolved barriers associated with limited curriculum time and faculty availability, provided an accessible and standard curriculum, and met the needs of adult learners (with their motivation to learn topics they value and apply this knowledge in their daily work). We hypothesize that our web-based curriculum spurred students to later discuss these topics with faculty. Web-based learning may be particularly suited for women's health because of its multidisciplinary nature and need for vertical integration throughout medical school curricula.