The ever-evolving healthcare landscape has made it crucial for medical professionals to stay up-to-date with menopause education and developments in residency programs. Despite the projection that nearly 90 million women in the United States (US) will experience postmenopause by 2060, many residency programs still give low priority to teaching about menopause.
A recent survey has revealed that residents face limited access to menopause educational resources and the absence of a standardised menopause curriculum. These survey results, published in the article “Needs Assessment of menopause education in the United States Obstetrics and Gynaecology Residency Training Programs” in menopause, have brought attention to a critical gap in medical education.
As women have longer lifespans, it’s no wonder that we see a rise in the number of women who have gone through menopause. This number will increase even further, with women spending approximately one-third of their lifetimes in menopause.
Despite the evident demand for menopause care and education, many obstetrics and gynaecology trainees complete their residency programs with significant gaps in their knowledge regarding menopause symptoms management and related conditions.
The last needs assessment regarding menopause education in 2013 confirmed what many suspected – most residents felt they had limited knowledge and needed more information on various aspects of menopause medicine. These areas included hormone therapy, bone health, and related conditions such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
Back then, only 20.8% of residents stated that their program had a formal menopause curriculum. Regrettably, based on the results of this latest survey, it seems that the situation has not improved significantly. Only 31.3% of the obstetrics and gynaecology residency program directors who participated in the survey reported having any form of menopause curriculum as part of their residents’ training. Approximately 20% claimed they had a curriculum confined to a rotation block.
Among the programs that did offer menopause curriculum, 96.8% relied on lectures, and 77.4% used assigned readings. However, it’s noteworthy that all programs with a menopause curriculum included five or fewer menopause lectures per year for trainees, with 71.0% reporting two or fewer sessions. Furthermore, 83.8% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their program requires more menopause educational resources.
Based on these concerning results, researchers have concluded that, nationally, most obstetrics and gynaecology training programs lack the curriculum necessary for effectively preparing residents to manage menopausal women. Moreover, there is a lack of consistency in the menopause curriculums that do exist, resulting in a lack of standardised care.
Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for The Menopause Society, sums up the situation succinctly: “This study highlights the ongoing problem of the lack of education of medical trainees in menopause management.
An easily accessible, standardised menopause curriculum would benefit trainees across multiple residency training programs, including obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, and family medicine, with the ultimate goal of ensuring all women have access to menopause care.”
The survey’s results underscore the pressing need for a comprehensive, standardised menopause education program in medical residency programs. As the population of postmenopausal women grow, healthcare providers must receive the necessary training to provide competent and compassionate care to this demographic.