By Matthew Keck —

A University of Louisville medical student is leading the change for medical education. Rachel Safeek, a second-year medical student, led U of L to be one of the first medical schools to teach firearm injury and death prevention techniques.

“About 40,000 Americans die and 85,000 others are injured each year from firearm-related causes, and the incidence of firearm-related morbidity and mortality has increased over the past decade,” Safeek said. “This is a very important public health issue. My classmates, colleagues and I believe that physicians have a role in counseling patients related to their health and we have an opportunity through those interactions to help reduce the number of firearm-related deaths and injuries.”

Safeek and her colleagues presented a resolution in September that was adopted by the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA). In November, Safeek presented a similar resolution that was adopted by the American Medical Association Medical Student Section.

Her resolution calls for all future physicians to receive training on how to counsel patients on safe firearm usage and storage. They will also be trained on how to screen patients for suicide risk and learn trauma-related first response techniques.

Safeek coauthored a curriculum with U of L faculty Suzanne McGee, M.D., Charles Kodner, M.D. and Susan Sawning, M.S.S.W. that will be incorporated during the 2020-2021 school year.

During February this year, Safeek, students and faculty are organizing a week-long series of events to educate U of L medical students, faculty and residents on firearm violence prevention. They are partnered with Whitney/Strong, an organization that is working to change gun laws in America.

“Our hope is that more medical schools will incorporate this type of training into their programs and doctors will be able to help make a difference in this health crisis,” Safeek said.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Louisville