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A Brief Dermatology Curriculum in Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention to Improve Medical Student Knowledge and Confidence. MedEdPORTAL 2020 12 29;16:11049



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Introduction: While the incidence of skin cancers continues to rise, there remains a disproportionate lack of introductory training on skin cancer screening and identification of modifiable behaviors in medical curricula. Trainees and students have cited low confidence in their ability to counsel patients and lack of instruction as barriers.

Methods: To address this need, we created a 1-hour didactic lecture based on a cognitive teaching framework for third-year medical students during their core primary care clerkship. The session highlighted visual identification of different skin cancers, factors increasing individual risk, and photoprotective behaviors. Session content was based on American Academy of Dermatology recommendations for skin cancer prevention. An assessment of knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes given before, immediately following, and at 6 months after the session was used to determine efficacy.

Results: One hundred eight students before and immediately after the session demonstrated significantly improved knowledge (mean correct: 71% presession vs. 99% postintervention, p < .0001). Based on 39 participants completing 6-month follow-up, knowledge remained improved (mean answered correctly: 80%, p < .0001). Confidence in patient counseling on preventive behaviors, risk assessment, and reported likelihood of counseling significantly increased across the three time points (p < .0001 for all attitude questions). Specific topics included appropriate referral to a dermatologist, sunscreen application, and dangers of indoor tanning bed usage.

Discussion: Our session on skin cancer screening and prevention demonstrated improvements in medical student knowledge, confidence, and patient counseling likelihood. This introductory curriculum could be adapted for multiple core clerkships or specialties.

Author List

Compres E, Holzem K, Ibler E, Bierman JA, Rademaker AW, Kundu RV


Kassandra E. Holzem MD Assistant Professor in the Dermatology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Skin Neoplasms
Students, Medical
United States