For adolescent girls and women, reproductive health services are critical at every stage of life. Yet in many countries, comprehensive reproductive health care, including family planning, is not available or accessible because there are too few trained health professionals to guide patients.
The Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIRHT) works with medical schools to integrate hands-on, clinical training in comprehensive reproductive health care, including family planning and safe abortion. Together we are committed to training the next generation of doctors, nurses and midwives to be confident, compassionate leaders in their communities.
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Health professionals are the foundation of healthy families and thriving communities. CIRHT is working with medical schools to train the health work force of the future with comprehensive reproductive health education rooted in three areas: hands-on clinical training, patient service and research.
CIRHT began its work in Ethiopia, where students at partnering medical schools are learning to meet client needs across the reproductive health continuum of care. The integrated curriculum is preparing graduates to provide family planning and contraceptive services, comprehensive abortion care and quality counseling. Beyond the classroom, these future doctors, nurses and midwives hone their skills in simulation labs, reproductive health clinic attachments and internships.
For doctors, undergraduate medical training in Ethiopia spans six years. After two years of basic sciences training, students progress to three years of clinical rotation followed by rotating year-long internships. With a sound understanding reproductive health as part of basic sciences, CIRHT and partner schools are building capacity for students to strengthen practical skills in their clinical years; first through the use of skills labs and then by providing care to patients, under the supervision of residents and faculty.
With hands-on training, students learn critical techniques as well as the communication and counseling skills needed to deliver quality care. Every CIRHT graduate learns how to work with a patient to address her individual needs, whether it is counseling on a full range of contraceptive methods or comprehensive abortion care. When doctors, nurses and midwives understand and prioritize caring for women and girls, they will help reduce the stigma that too often surrounds reproductive health services.
Asking critical questions helps us understand the impact of our work. CIRHT fosters a ‘team science’ approach to research—encouraging students and faculty to collaborate to collect local data and find answers through scientific exploration. To assess how the integrated reproductive health teaching curriculum is expanding skills—and how every facility can improve the care it delivers—CIRHT connects partner medical schools with experts around the world, including the University of Michigan network.