Falls are a critical public health issue for older adults, and falls risk assessment is an expected competency for medical students. The aim of this study was to design an innovative method to teach falls risk assessment using community-based resources and limited geriatrics faculty. The authors developed a Fall Prevention Program through a partnership with Meals-on-Wheels (MOW). A 3rd-year medical student accompanies a MOW client services associate to a client's home and performs a falls risk assessment including history of falls, fear of falling, medication review, visual acuity, a Get Up and Go test, a Mini-Cog, and a home safety evaluation, reviewed in a small group session with a faculty member. During the 2010 academic year, 110 students completed the in-home falls risk assessment, rating it highly. One year later, 63 students voluntarily completed a retrospective pre/postsurvey, and the proportion of students reporting moderate to very high confidence in performing falls risk assessments increased from 30.6% to 87.3% (p < .001). Students also reported using most of the skills learned in subsequent clerkships. A single educational intervention in the MOW program effectively addressed geriatrics competencies with minimal faculty effort and could be adopted by many medical schools.
Keywords: community-based organization; falls risk assessment; medical education.