On pace to become the most common cause of death in the 21st century, tobacco kills an estimated 16,000 people per day, according to the World Health Organization.
But Arthur Elster, MD, MJ, adjunct associate professor in preventive medicine, doesn’t believe that dealing with the issue needs to start with smokers. Elster, in coordination with Rebecca Wurtz, MD, MPH, director of the Program in Public Health, and associate professor in preventive medicine, wants to expand tobacco control and prevention awareness to the future’s front lines: medical and graduate students.
Beginning Wednesday, March 28, the spring quarter focus on tobacco combines a 10-week course for students, “Global Tobacco: Control and Prevention,” with a series of guest speakers that’s open to the medical school community. The speakers will kick off each Wednesday session with an hour-long guest presentation starting at 6 p.m. in Northwestern Memorial Hospital McGaw Pavilion, 240 East Huron Street, Room 1-401. The purpose of this focus on tobacco is to address a variety of key issues including prevention, problems associated with its use, and the consequences of second and third-hand smoke.
Scheduled guests include nationally-known tobacco prevention researchers Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH, associate professor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, on April 4; Jonathan Klein, MD, MPH, director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence for Children and Secondhand Smoke, on April 11; and Michael Fiore MD, MPH, MBA, director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, on May 16. The commissioner of health for the Chicago Department of Public Health, Bechara Choucair, MD, is scheduled to speak on April 25.
[blockquote]My vision is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to assume leadership roles in the field of tobacco control and prevention.
Arthur Elster, MD, MJ
adjunct associate professor
“The goal is to ensure that students and professionals of the Feinberg community understand the scientific basis for the health effects of tobacco, the changing epidemiology, and how rates of tobacco usage vary among populations,” Elster said. “My vision is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to assume leadership roles in the field of tobacco control and prevention. Community advocates, public health officials, and professionals from an array of disciplines are deeply involved in these issues. Medical students can and should play a leadership role as well.”
By creating a dialogue about a single topic that crosses the boundaries between clinical medicine and public policy, local issues and global ones, and prevention and cessation approaches, the tobacco focus is meant to engage individuals across the medical campus.
“The goal of the focus is to remind health care professionals and medical students that tobacco is an important and escalating issue,” Wurtz said. “It is also meant to educate them about how they, as health professionals, can make a contribution to curbing the problem.
Among the events associated with the global tobacco focus will be four lunchtime lectures from noon to 1 p.m. aimed at medical students. Taking place April 3 through April 6, speakers include American Lung Association certified instructor Carol Southard RN, MSN; Bijou Hunt, PhD, Sinai Urban Health Institute; Elster; and Brian Hitsman, PhD, assistant professor in preventive medicine.