Background: Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortal-ity in the USA. Medical schools must prepare trainees to address prevention, including improving ability in counseling patients to modify lifestyle risk factors. Most medical students do not receive significant training or clinical experience in preventive medicine until the clinical years of medical school. To enhance student education in disease prevention and lifestyle counseling, and simultaneously target cardiovascular disease prevention in high-risk Chicago neighborhoods, the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Chicago Department of Public Health with support from the GE Foundation, developed the Keep Your Heart Healthy program. Methods: Medical students participated in intensive faculty-led training. They subsequently screened local residents to identify and counsel for cardiovascular disease risk factors. Fifty-one predominantly preclinical medical students screened residents of the Humboldt Park and North Lawndale neighborhoods in Chicago, IL, at 31 screening events from August to December 2013. Fifty students (98% response rate) completed a survey assessing the educational value of various program components following the pilot. Results: Of all respondents, 92% of students reported improved knowledge of cardiovascular disease prevention and 94% reported improved knowledge of vulnerable populations and health equity. The majority (88%) reported that their participation supplemented material they learned in the classroom. Eighty-six percent of students reported that their encounters with community participants were of educational value. Integration of this program into the medical school curriculum was supported by 68% of students. Conclusion: Keep Your Heart Healthy educates primarily preclinical medical students in cardiovascular disease prevention and prepares them to apply this knowledge for patient counseling. Results from student surveys demonstrate that this service-learning initiative enhances medical student knowledge in cardiovascular disease prevention, supplements classroom material, and provides students a valuable opportunity to apply interviewing and counseling skills in a real patient encounter.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Community health
- Service learning
- Undergraduate medical education
ASJC Scopus subject areas