Interest in internal medicine (IM) has substantially decreased over the last decade. Although hospital medicine (HM) is currently the fastest‐growing specialty, many premedical and medical students are not aware of this field. With an aging population and increasing complexity in medical illnesses, it is critical to actively generate enthusiasm and improve recruitment for HM and IM.
Establishment of an undergraduate preceptorship in inpatient IM with the goal of promoting awareness of HM and IM.
In August 2008, UCLA Medical Center launched the Undergraduate Preceptorship in Internal Medicine (UPIM). Seventeen highly motivated premedical students filled out an application, completed a survey assessing their baseline knowledge of various fields in medicine, and underwent an interview process. Seven undergraduate students were selected and joined IM ward teams and inpatient subspecialty consult services for 3 weeks. Students were required to attend morning report, grand rounds, and noon conferences. They participated in a weekly didactic session that was specifically designed for them. During these sessions, students were required to present an interesting case, received lectures on common topics in HM, and had invited guest speakers discussing the variety of career options in HM and IM. The students had lively discussions about complex medical conditions, the challenges in caring for uninsured patients, the importance of palliative care, and delivering difficult news to patients and families. At the conclusion of the program, the students completed a 1‐page summary of their experiences.
The preceptorship illustrated significant improvement in the students' understanding of HM and IM. In a questionnaire administered during the initial interview process, 94% of students had knowledge of surgery and pediatrics, and 100% were familiar with psychiatry. Interestingly, only 35% of all applicants could appropriately identify the job description of IM physicians. Although 12% stated they had knowledge of HM, none of the students could describe the field. At the conclusion of the program, on a 5‐point Likert scale, 57% of students indicated they were “very likely” to consider IM as a field in the future; Meanwhile, 57% of student were “likely” and 43% were “very likely” to think about HM. When comparing general wards to subspecialty consult services, all students preferred their experience on wards. This program utilizes the established infrastructure of academic hospitalist programs to provide an invaluable opportunity in HM and IM for motivated students. Although initially designed for undergraduate students, this program can be easily modified for medical students. In fact, currently, this preceptorship is being expanded to multiple other undergraduate and medical school programs across the country with the vision of improving the future recruitment for HM and IM.
N. Afsarmanesh, none.