Development and Evaluation of a Novel, Peer-Led Advocacy and Activism Curriculum for Asian Health Professional Students

An Abstract Ruchita Pendse, Davis Chhoa, Vivian Lou, Richard Liang, and Bright Zhou

The Stanford University School of Medicine



The year 2020 brought universal stressors including the COVID-19 pandemic and a national reckoning with systemic racism and police brutality, and particularly raised the question of non-Black POC ally-ship in the Asian health professional student community. During this time, “activated” Asian health professional students, or students who are in the process of developing a political consciousness, were searching for a space to mutually expand their identities and skills as allies, advocates, and activists. However, no such space exists in a traditional medical school curriculum to facilitate this dialogue and learning. Student leaders of the Stanford University School of Medicine chapter of Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) addressed this curricular gap by developing a peer-led curriculum specifically for “activated” Asian health professional students.



A pilot module was developed using Thomas et. al.’s Six-Step Approach for Curriculum Development, a well established methodology in medical education. Through several pair and group discussions, current and past Stanford APAMSA leaders defined an initial module on the topic of “Empowering Activists and Advocates.” Learning objectives for this session were identified as (1) to facilitate a brave space for group healing and community building, (2) to discuss emotional stressors and sources of strength prevalent in API community, and (3) to equip students with tools (e.g. frameworks, vocabulary) to be an activist and/or advocate in their respective communities and future practice as healthcare providers. The module was designed to be highly interactive, consisting of PollEv word cloud check-ins, a brief didactic presentation centered around learning objectives, and a reserved discussion space for participants to share their own lessons in advocacy and activism. The event was hosted via Zoom in mid-December 2020. After the event, an anonymous mixed-methods survey consisting of several multiple choice and free response questions was circulated to attendees. The survey data were analyzed using summary statistical analysis and qualitative thematic analysis.



Of the 19 participants in the pilot session, 15 (79%) responded to our survey. Among respondents,  4 (27%) were undergraduate students, 8 (60%) were preclinical medical or physician assistant students, and 2 (13%) were clinical medical students. A significant majority of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed to feeling ready to apply tools from the session to support themselves in the following domains: 11 (73%) in personal wellness, 12 (80%) in relationships with their family/community, 13 (86%) in being an advocate within their communities, 12 (80%) in being an advocate on behalf of their community. All respondents felt comfortable distinguishing between physician advocacy versus activism. Among the respondents, 12 (80%) felt more connected with other members of the Stanford APAMSA community. 14 (93%) of respondents were satisfied with the content and the event overall. Thematic analysis of how respondents expected to apply insights from the session in their lives identified that participants were more interested in exploring activism and advocacy in the future and intended to be more deliberate about the spaces in which they will engage in advocacy versus activism.


Next Steps

We present a successful initial module for Asian health professional advocacy and activism with high rates of satisfaction and self-reported actionable learning. Based on participant feedback, future modules are planned around pan-Asian identity and history, intergenerational communication, and intersectionality, and will continue to be developed and evaluated using the six-step process. Lastly, this peer-led curriculum can be replicated by other APAMSA chapters to curricularly support “activated” Asian health professional students across the country.