Reena Bastin and Faizah Shareef, first-year medical students from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), wanted to learn more about Choosing Wisely after a faculty member shared an email about the campaign and how it could help reduce unnecessary care and costs.
In December 2017, Bastin and Shareef joined 48 other first-year medical students from 25 medical schools across the United States at the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin for the first meeting of the U.S. Choosing Wisely STARS (Students and Trainees Advocating for Resource Stewardship) program. The STARS program is designed to give medical students the tools, support and resources to lead changes within their medical schools that promote appropriate, evidence-based care.
“I met many like-minded people at the event and learned how Choosing Wisely could be implemented into the American health care system,” Shareef said. “It solidified my perspective on why we need to focus a lot more on areas where patient care is not evidence-based.”
Before attending BUSM, Shareef spent a gap year conducting clinical research in pediatric obesity at the National Institutes of Health. She worked with integrated teams to create exercise routines aimed at improving outcomes and preventing future health problems.
Bastin is a member of BUSM PumpStart, a program through which medical school students connect with local schools to teach teenagers CPR. While at the STARS meeting, she said students from the original Canadian Choosing Wisely STARS program talked about how they incorporated Choosing Wisely into their medical school curricula. She admits it might be more difficult to do this in the U.S., where medical school curricula vary, but she is now interested to see if she can start something at BUSM.
Since returning to Boston, Bastin and Shareef have continued to keep in touch with the STARS community via the initiative’s Facebook group. They are also finalizing plans for a series of lunch talks for medical students where they can learn more about Choosing Wisely, hear from physician speakers and join quality improvement projects.
“Our medical center is becoming an affordable care organization—so we want to explore how Choosing Wisely can be implemented through that framework,” Bastin said. STARS has opened new opportunities for both students, including meetings with deans to discuss curriculum and collaborations with other student groups to launch the lunch talks. “Our faculty has been receptive to working with us to make connections on campus with others who have similar goals,” Shareef said. “They have been really instrumental in helping us get our footing.”