After emphasizing biomedical and clinical sciences for over a century, US medical schools are expanding experiential roles that allow students to learn about health care delivery while also adding value to patient care. After developing a program where all 1st-year medical students are integrated into interprofessional care teams to contribute to patient care, authors use a diffusion of innovations framework to explore and identify barriers, facilitators, and best practices for implementing value-added clinical systems learning roles. In 2016, authors conducted 32 clinical-site observations, 29 1:1 interviews with mentors, and four student focus-group interviews. Data were transcribed verbatim, and a thematic analysis was used to identify themes. Authors discussed drafts of the categorization scheme, and agreed upon results and quotations. Of 36 sites implementing the program, 17 (47%) remained, 8 (22%) significantly modified, and 11 (31%) withdrew from the program. Identified strategies for implementing value-added roles included: student education, patient characteristics, patient selection methods, activities performed, and resources. Six themes influencing program implementation and maintenance included: (1) educational benefit, (2) value added to patient care from student work, (3) mentor time and site capacity, (4) student engagement, (5) working relationship between school, site, and students, and, (6) students’ continuity at the site. Health systems science is an emerging focus for medical schools, and educators are challenged to design practice-based roles that enhance education and add value to patient care. Health professions’ schools implementing value-added roles will need to invest resources and strategize about best-practice strategies to guide efforts.
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