Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Early Literacy Training Among Medical Students

Dunlap, M., Walker, B., Nguyen, C., Gerth, K., Garbe, M.C., Caldwell, A. (2021) Early Literacy Training Among Medical Students. The Clinical Teacher, 18(6), 602-606.,

Access: Institutional Access

Publication year


study description

Cross-sectional survey.

core topic(s)

Reach Out and Read (ROR)

Population Characteristics

Medical Trainees

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Medical Training/Education , Provider Behaviors and Skills , Provider Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs


This study describes medical student training, awareness, experiences, and attitudes towards early literacy and the 'Reach Out and Read' (ROR) initiative.


Reach Out and Read (ROR) training.

outcomes evaluated

Attitudes, experiences, and training around ROR and early literacy promotion.


Two Midwestern medical school campuses.


An anonymous online survey was sent to all medical students at a medical school in the Midwest with two campuses. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

sample size

n=257 (medical students)


Measure of Attitudes, Experiences, and Training: 31 question survey adapted from Caldwell to assess demographics, early literacy promotion training, experiences and attitudes, using 5-point Likert scales to assess agreement with statements regarding ROR and early literacy:

    • clinician perceptions about the importance of early literacy
    • clinician knowledge around ROR
    • clinician comfort with ROR


We received data from 275 medical students. Almost half (46.5%) had completed their paediatric clerkship, 22.9% had observed ROR, and only 2.9% had received any training. Most (67%), wanted to learn more about early literacy, and 59% expressed a desire for more ROR training. Most respondents expressed preference for learning from residents and faculty in clinic followed by online training. 47% agreed that it was a role of medical students to assess and encourage reading.


Medical students understand the importance of early literacy in primary care and emphasizing this during clinical encounters. Most are eager to learn more about early literacy promotion and ROR. This interest decreases during third and fourth year so targeting the first 2 years of medical school is an important strategy. Providing formal literacy promotion training and education for medical students should be considered during this critical time in their education.


This study is limited to data from only one institution, so it may be limited in the potential to provide broad generalizations but it does represent two separate campuses in different cities. In addition, this study did not assess the impact of trainings received by medical students. Further studies of this nature among other groups of medical students and other medical professions students are needed to better understand the early literacy training and early literacy experiences that medical students and medical professions students experience.