Gaps in Dementia Training at the Medical Student Level: Slipping Through the Cracks
Objective: This study aimed to assess medical student competency regarding dementia care.
Background: Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia (ADRD) are projected to impact 14 million individuals by 2060. However, there is seldom education of ADRD at the provider level and many patients go unnoticed until more advanced disease is clinically manifest.
Design/Methods: A survey was distributed to 81 medical students enrolled at accredited, United States medical schools. Questions assessed the degree of dementia-specific training received, as well as student-held beliefs regarding the caregiving role for dementia patients.
Results: The average age of students was 25.40 years. 77.78% identified as female (n = 63) and 22.22% as male (n = 18). Approximately 61.73% of students were Caucasian. Only 43.21% had seen an attending physician evaluate cognitive concerns more than once and 34.57% had never seen an attending physician discuss these concerns with patients. Students who had seen cognitive evaluations at least monthly were more confident in identifying signs of cognitive impairment (p = 0.0073). Students who personally knew a dementia caregiver (49.4% (n = 40)) were less likely to report that they would serve as this caregiver themselves for a loved one (20.00% vs. 56.10%, p = 0.0008). Six participants, all females, had personal experience being a dementia caregiver. However, they had the same level of confidence in starting conversations about brain health and identifying symptoms of dementia when compared to students who had never been a caregiver (p = 0.38, p = 0.19, respectively).
Conclusions: Clinical experience with dementia patients significantly improved medical student confidence in identifying and screening patients with cognitive concerns. However, the majority of students only had a few of these encounters. Serving as a dementia caregiver did not impact confidence levels. This research highlights the need for improved ADRD education and awareness starting at the medical student level.
15 (Supplement S)
Vanood A, Sharrak A, Jung D, Rao A, Aggarwal N. Gaps in Dementia Training at the Medical Student Level: Slipping Through the Cracks. 2021 Apr 13;96(15). Available from: https://n.neurology.org/content/96/15_Supplement/4229