A model for training medical student innovators: the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care Abundance Agents of Change program
Background In 2013, the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care established the Abundance Agents of Change (AoC) program to promote interprofessional learning and innovation, increase partnership between 15 academic and community health centers (CHCs) in Boston's most under-served communities, and increase medical student interest in primary care careers. Methods The AoC is modeled in the form of a 'grants challenge', offering $20,000 to interprofessional student teams to develop an innovative solution that addresses a healthcare delivery need identified by CHCs. The program's initial two years were characterized by a four-stage process which included working with CHCs and crafting a request for proposals, forming interprofessional 20 student teams comprising students from across and outside of Harvard University, training students using a systems-based innovation curriculum, and performing program evaluation. Results Our evaluation data from cohorts 1 and 2 of the AoC program demonstrate that we succeeded in training students as innovators and members of interprofessional teams. We also learned valuable lessons regarding creating better alignment with CHC priorities, extending the program cycle from 12 to 18 months, and changing the way funding is disbursed to 25 students, which will be incorporated in later versions of the program. Conclusions Based on our experience and evaluation data, we believe that this program is a replicable way to train students as innovators and members of interprofessional teams to address the current complex healthcare environment.