In a format similar to Shark Tank, the popular reality television series where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential investors, medical student Emily Dollar makes her pitch.
Poised and confident, she launches into an assessment of obesity counseling for adolescent patients. Research, she says, suggests clinicians are uncomfortable raising the topic of obesity during patient wellness visits, but when they do many use inconsistent language that sends subtle and shaming messages. Current counseling is often ineffective and perhaps harmful—though inadvertent, these messages have the power to cause self-esteem damage during this tender stage of human development. She wants to change this dynamic.
On this sunny Monday morning in mid-May, Dollar is among eight student finalists pitching proposals designed to address serious issues affecting health care or population health during the Make a Difference (MaD) Project and Symposium, the culmination of a new first-year course—Patients and Populations: Improving Health and Health care—that launches Geisel's health care delivery science curriculum.
The brainchild of course director Brenda Sirovich, MD, MS, an associate professor of medicine at Geisel and at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, the MaD Project and Symposium coalesced broad course themes around actionable student-initiated proposals to improve medicine, health care, or population health—proposals designed to be realistically implementable by a small team of students. Medical students can't wait to be practicing medicine, "and this project allows them to see themselves as players leading change in the world of medicine and health care," she says.
Many students viewed the symposium as the course highlight.