Developing an Advocacy Curriculum: Lessons Learned from a National Survey of Psychiatric Residency Programs

Acad Psychiatry. 2020 Jun;44(3):283-288. doi: 10.1007/s40596-020-01179-z. Epub 2020 Jan 16.


Objective: Advocacy by physicians, defined as a physician's public support for causes, policies, or actions that advance patient health, is increasingly recognized as a professional responsibility as well as a core competency in medical training. The authors describe a survey they conducted on advocacy curricula in psychiatric residency training programs across the USA, from their vantage point as members of an advocacy council within a medical professional organization.

Methods: Between Fall 2016 and Winter 2018, psychiatry residency programs with advocacy curricula were identified through personal communications with stakeholders as well as a blast email to the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with program leaders at residencies with an advocacy curriculum to collect detailed information on these curricula.

Results: Seven psychiatry residency programs with advocacy curricula were identified. All seven programs agreed to be interviewed and are included in the survey results.

Conclusions: Lessons learned from this survey include how to approach the development of an advocacy curriculum; the components, attributes, and supports of an effective curriculum; and the challenges commonly encountered by medical educators trying to implement such a curriculum. The authors hope that these observations will contribute to the development of a best practice guideline for advocacy teaching within psychiatry and perhaps for other medical disciplines.

Keywords: Advocacy; Medical education; Psychiatry residency.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum*
  • Health Equity*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Program Development*
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States