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Open Access Research article

A Family Day program enhances knowledge about medical school culture and necessary supports

Mary A Bell1*, Paula S Smith2, James J Brokaw1 and Herbert E Cushing1

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Student Affairs, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A

2 Medical Education and Curricular Affairs, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A

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BMC Medical Education 2004, 4:3  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-4-3

Published: 10 March 2004



A Family Day program was implemented at Indiana University School of Medicine to educate the families and friends of in-coming medical students about the rigors of medical school and the factors that contribute to stress.


Surveys that assessed knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes about medical school were administered to participants before and after the program.


After the program, participants showed a significant improvement in their understanding of medical school culture and the importance of support systems for medical students. Post-test scores improved by an average of 29% (P < 0.001) in each of the two years this program was administered.


The inclusion of family members and other loved ones in pre-matriculation educational programs may serve to mitigate the stress associated with medical school by enhancing the students' social support systems.