Family medicine physician Dr. Marguerite Duane was 29 and in her first year of medical residency when she learned about Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs) of family planning. Intrigued, she couldn’t believe she had never been taught that women could manage their fertility without serious physical or emotional side effects. She was so convicted that she went on to become a Creighton Medical Consultant, and eventually the executive director of the Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science (FACTS).
In 2010, Dr. Duane learned that Georgetown University’s School of Medicine was seeking to add more elective options for medical students. The elective course content could be on any subject matter that would make the students more well-rounded in their practice of medicine. Intrigued by the possibility of introducing future physicians to fertility awareness-based methods of natural family planning (NFP), Dr. Duane put together a proposal. Her course was approved, and “Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs) for Women’s Health and Family Planning” was born. Dr. Duane spoke to Live Action News about the online course’s objectives and format, as well as feedback from past students.
READ: Analyzing facts and fiction about hormonal birth control and NFP
According to the syllabus Dr. Duane provided, the course “focuses on the basic principles of FABMs, their effectiveness for family planning and the supporting science behind their medical applications.” At the course’s end, students are expected to be able to speak “in a balanced, unbiased manner” about all five types of FABMs, to both new and experienced users. The course format includes multiple components, such as two weeks of online lectures by FABM pioneers and experts like Richard Fehring, founder of the Marquette Method. The other two course components are ideally completed in-person, as students are personally paired both with physicians who integrate FABMs in their practice, as well as FABM instructors teaching actual women and couples. This clinical experience affords students an incredible opportunity to integrate their new knowledge with its real-world application.
Dr. Duane noted that while the two-week elective was originally offered only to Georgetown medical students, any medical or healthcare profession student enrolled in an accredited program is now eligible to enroll. Dr. Duane also said that Carroll College Nursing Program in Montana is offering an FABM elective based on the Georgetown program.
Past students have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about the FABM elective. “This was, by far, the best class I have taken at Georgetown,” one student said. “Dr. Duane did an amazing job organizing the course. The guest speakers were phenomenal. I strongly believe that EVERY medical student should at least have an introduction to NFP. Thank you so much for this course!”
Another student said, “I am thankful I have had the opportunity to get a broader perspective on the research and risks of the various methods of family planning through my elective with FACTS and the studies I have been able to find related to these topics,” adding, “With this knowledge, I hope to be able to present my future patients with a better picture of what their options are for family planning and continue to keep up with the research as I move into residency.”
Equipping future healthcare professionals with the knowledge and resources they need to provide truly holistic reproductive healthcare is vital to the pro-life movement. Educating women on how their bodies work and supporting couples’ understanding of their ability to create new life and plan for their families in ways that honor the woman’s body and natural cycles is truly empowering.
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