Growth and Experiences of a Student-Led Patient Navigation Program Serving Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Please find below the third article featured in our Winter 2024 Issue, enjoy!

Background: Those experiencing homelessness face disproportionately large barriers in access to healthcare. Patient Navigation is a service that provides disadvantaged populations with guidance through healthcare systems. Acting as a patient navigator is found to help enhance learning in the pre-clinical years of medical school. Developed by medical students, the Patient Navigator Program (PNP) pairs medical students trained as patient navigators with individuals experiencing homelessness. The uniqueness of this program lies in its fully student-run format, simultaneously providing individuals experiencing homelessness with longitudinal navigation services toward self-defined goals and medical students with exposure to a disadvantaged and underserved population in their early years of medical school. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the growth and student experiences of PNP from its inception and inform those who aim to develop similar student-run patient navigation programs.

Methods: Participation metrics in the program were extracted from volunteer records, and five 30-min student leader semi-structured interviews were conducted using open-ended questions to investigate the experiences of those who developed the program. Interviews were transcribed, and responses were categorized by themes.

Results: Enduring involvement in PNP over years was demonstrated quantitatively through participation metrics and qualitatively through interviews. Positive aspects of participation in PNP were meeting and working with other students, utilizing their creative vision in developing the program, learning about those experiencing homelessness and the local resources available to them, shaping career goals and academic interests, and learning the soft skills necessary for medical clerkships. Negative experiences primarily revolved around time constraints of the program in addition to their academic responsibilities. Commonly stated advice included identifying an appropriate faculty mentor and building strong relationships with community partners.

Conclusions: Participation in PNP was felt to be beneficial both personally and professionally. Reporting these perspectives and experiences will provide insight to future student-led programs at other institutions.

Uncommon Presentation of Benign Dermatofibroma of Thigh: A Case Report

Here’s the second article featured in our Winter 2024 Issue, enjoy!

Abstract: Dermatofibromas (DF) are small, noncancerous skin lesions typically found in the dermis layer of the skin and are often composed of a variable combination of inflammatory cells, which classically present as a firm, nonpainful, skin-colored nodule on the extremities or trunk. We present a case of a 53-year-old woman with a medical history of psoriasis who had bilateral leg swelling, erythema, and dry skin for which she underwent a punch biopsy of the left thigh. The punch biopsy sample was found to be a dermatofibroma, which was negative for malignancy or atypia. The skin rash and associated symptoms were due to Candida intertrigo, which was treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics and fluconazole. Following this, she was discharged and prescribed a course of fluconazole and linezolid for continued treatment of Candida intertrigo. This case report describes a rare presentation of benign dermatofibroma.

Medical Students’ Perspectives on Pregnant or Parenting Peers: A Cross-Sectional Survey

We’re back after some technical difficulties! Big thanks to everyone for their patience. Please find below the first addition to our Winter 2024 Issue, enjoy!

Purpose: Limited institutional resources exist for pregnant and parenting medical students; however, students’ opinions regarding pregnancy in medical school have not been reported. The authors assessed medical students’ perspectives regarding pregnant or parenting peers and underlying bias or resource gaps.

Methods: An online, cross-sectional survey was distributed in October 2022 to medical students at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (n = 806) to explore demographics, bias, family planning, and available resources. Descriptive analyses, a two- tailed t-test comparing female and male responses, and a one-way analysis of variance test comparing medical school classes were used.

Results: The survey response rate was 13.2% (n = 106). Few respondents (n = 4, 3.8%) had been pregnant during medical school. The majority (n = 67, 71.3%) indicated family plans influence specialty choice. Furthermore, 78.0% (n = 42) cited career and education as their reason for choosing to delay pregnancy. Other descriptive analyses identified that 80.0% (n = 75) of respondents were not aware of resources available for pregnant or parenting classmates. Also, 13.0% (n = 12) of respondents had witnessed bias toward a pregnant medical student. Differences in opinions between males and females were present regarding bias and support available. Differences between medical student classes also exist regarding opinions indicating pregnancy as a barrier during school. The statements with the strongest overall agreement were: Pregnant medical students are resilient, face additional challenges, and parental leave should be available in medical school.

Conclusion: This study provides new information regarding pregnancy opinions in medical school and highlights pregnant medical students’ challenges and biases. We revealed common delays in pregnancy due to career or educational choices and uncovered the strong consensus among students that parental leave should be an option. Support efforts are warranted to decrease biases and offer parental leave to promote equity and inclusion.