Medical school is an excellent time start building your knowledge of abortion training and bringing awareness to your peers. You are already deeply entrenched in learning and research, and are surrounded by your future colleagues and collaborators. Here are some actions you can take as well as some available resources.
Explore your own values and feelings around abortion through “values clarification."
Even for those of us who are staunchly “pro-choice” and wish to provide abortion services, we have all lived in a world with competing morals and opinions around pregnancy, motherhood, terminations and everything in between. Abortion providers and providers-to-be are still human and may struggle with our own value systems around pregnancy termination- perhaps you are not as comfortable doing a procedure for a patient who desires a child of the opposite sex, is terminating due to a disability, or who has had 8 prior terminations.
Recommendation: read, and work through Alissa Perucci’s phenomenal book Decision Assessment and Counseling in Abortion Care: Philosophy and Practice.
Join like-minded organizations
Examples include: your school’s reproductive health interest group, Family Medicine Interest Group, OB-GYN Interest Group, AAFP’s Reproductive health interest group
Find your school’s chapter of Medical Students for Choice!
Medical students for choice is a wonderful organization geared specifically for medical students who are interested in learning about abortion training. If your school doesn’t have a chapter, you can start your own. MSFC is an accessible, supportive organization. They have opportunities to do a clinical abortion observation where you can get exposure to abortion care for anywhere from 3-9 days. You can also apply for a fully funded, weekend-long Abortion Training Institute where you will connect with like-minded individuals and learn about abortion care.
Attend the MSFC Conference on Family Planning - this will give you wonderful teaching and exposure to other like-minded individuals and help you start to network for your future clinical training opportunities.
Reach out to the Midwest Access Project!
They accept Preclinical medical students for observation rotations. This could be a great way to establish a relationship with their organization to be able to come back as a resident for hands on training.
Investigate your curriculum - does it include comprehensive family planning information?
Medical Students for Choice has a wonderful guide to what they believe all medical school curriculum should discuss. It includes: Pregnancy Options Counseling, Contraception Counseling, Pharmacology of contraception/Emergency Contraception, Pharmacology of medical abortion, Basic statistics of abortion, Epidemiology of Unintended Pregnancy, Spontaneous abortion diagnosis and management, Surgical abortion techniques, Sexual Health/Dysfunction (both male and female), Ethics of abortion and physician responsibility.
Does your school’s curriculum include this? If not, go here for more information.
Learn about trauma-informed care in preparation for clinical experiences
Have you considered how seeking reproductive health services can be stressful, painful or reminiscent of prior traumatic events? Trauma-informed care is a broad framework for engaging with others in clinical settings (and outside of them) which emphasizes safety, trustworthiness and transparency, peer support, collaboration and mutuality, empowerment and choice, and cultural, historical and gender issues.
Check out all the resources that AMSA has to offer!
Reproductive Health Mentorship Sprint
Reproductive Health Scholars Program
Career Pathways in Family Planning Leadership Program
Reproductive Justice Leadership Program
Feel free to contact Jeff Koetje if you have any questions about the above programming.
Find your local Planned Parenthood or abortion clinic and see if they have any volunteering opportunities!
They may need some support for fundraisers or other events in the community to spread awareness. Who knows, you may be able to come back as a resident and train where you once volunteered because they will remember your dedication.