DMU faculty present winning posters at AACOM annual conference

Des Moines University was delighted this spring that the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) honored DMU President and CEO Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., with its 2022 Dale S. Dodson, DO, Award, during its annual conference in Denver, Educating Leaders, the largest gathering of osteopathic medical education (OME) professionals in the nation. After all, the award was created in memory of American Osteopathic Association (AOA) past president and OME innovator Dale S. Dodson, D.O., a 1951 DMU graduate, to recognize a current or past chief executive officer or chief academic officer of an osteopathic medical college who has made significant contributions to the advancement and support of OME.

DMU also was proud that AACOM honored several of its faculty members with its Outstanding Medical Education Research Poster and Presentation Award. The award is presented to the individual(s) whose poster and presentation at the AACOM Annual Conference is found to achieve the highest standards of professional, scientific and educational rigor.

Julia Van Liew, Ph.D.

Winning first place was the poster “Education in equitable, inclusive care for diverse patients: an updated, competency-based approach,” by Julia R. Van Liew, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral medicine, medical humanities and bioethics; Lisa Streyffeler, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of behavioral medicine, medical humanities and bioethics; and Lauren Young, now a third-year student in DMU’s doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) program.

The researchers updated an existing one-credit, pass-fail, required course in DMU’s first-year pre-clinical osteopathic curriculum designed to hone students’ cultural humility, the ability to care for diverse patients while understanding one’s own assumptions and biases. Goals of the course include preparing students to advocate for systemic changes addressing root causes of persistent health disparities. The researchers then performed pre-course and post-course surveys to assess students’ self-efficacy on DEI competencies defined by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

Lisa Streyffeler, Ph.D.

“Pre-course measures indicated that the majority of students explicitly valued cultural awareness, yet generally did not report feeling well-prepared to work clinically with these cultural differences,” poster authors stated. “Post-course measures demonstrated significant increases across each AOA competency area, documenting increased self-efficacy in applying course concepts to patient care. Additional measures supported our goals of increased perceived relevance of one’s own attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes to patient care, and increased motivation for further action to support lifelong DEI learning and advocacy for systemic change.”

Earning second-place in the AACOM Annual Conference faculty poster competition was a poster titled, “Relevance of research experiences for practice and placement of DMU-COM students,” by Martin Schmidt, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and nutrition. He explored students’ expectations of active participation in research during their professional careers and the objective value of research accomplishments for students as they seek to match to residency programs. Because providing medical students with research opportunities requires substantial faculty time and resources, assessing the subjective and objective value of those opportunities offers “important guidance for curricular revisions” aimed at strengthening the medical research curriculum and efficiently allocating scarce research resources, Dr. Schmidt stated.

Martin Schmidt, Ph.D.
Martin Schmidt, Ph.D. (DMU photo by Brett T. Roseman)

Among his findings were that while the number of DMU osteopathic medicine (D.O.) students has steadily increased in recent years, the majority, 74 percent, don’t consider research experiences to be very important because they anticipate matching into residencies that place a lower value on such experiences. However, about 10 percent of DMU students highly value research experiences, as they are “a prime selection criterion” for the residency they want. His data also showed that the students who matched into competitive specialties reported a significantly higher number of research experiences
during their medical school years.

“This suggests that strengthening the research curriculum while focusing the efforts on students aiming for competitive residencies is a sensible strategy to improve the match outcomes and to prepare interested graduates for future participation in clinical research,” he concluded.

The DMU faculty members’ successes at the AACOM poster competition echo some of the achievements of 2021. Dr. Van Liew was the lead author of the faculty poster that won first place last year, “Contact-based NAMI program has sustained impact on students’ perspectives on psychiatric illness,” and Dr. Schmidt was the lead author of the poster that took third place, “Quiz-enhanced podcasts for cutting redundancy and excessive detail.”

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