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September 26, 2016 Continuing and Graduate Education For Professionals and Executives

UConn medical school unveils new curriculum

Q&A talks about the UConn School of Medicine's revised curriculum with Dr. Suzanne Rose, senior associate dean for education.

Q: The UConn School of Medicine class of 2020 just began a new four-year curriculum designed to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing field of health care. What are some of the elements of the curriculum that are new and different?

A: The MDelta curriculum reflects changes in health care and is both patient-centered and student-centered. It includes a team-based learning pedagogy to facilitate cooperation and professional development.

We are retaining one of the hallmarks of our old curriculum whereby our students are placed in primary-care practices for a half-day per week for three years with community physicians. These physicians throughout Connecticut are among our prized teachers. Our medical students also continue to be taught with our dental students.

In the first two years of the curriculum nearly everything else has changed. There are three stages of the MDelta curriculum culminating in entrustment to begin residency:

• Stage 1 is now 18 months long and will be completed at the end of February of the second year of medical school. This is a shortening of what was previously considered the pre-clerkship or pre-clinical years. The courses in Stage 1 are all interactive and there are no longer one-hour lectures. We have flipped the classroom so that students study material at home and class time is used for interaction and application of knowledge.

• Stage 2 will be implemented in March 2018 when the inaugural class for the new curriculum reaches that stage. The plans for this longer clinical immersion experience will allow for board study preparation, elective time, selectives, both ambulatory and inpatient required experiences and flexible vacation time.

• Stage 3 will begin in July at the end of the third year of medical school with advanced clinical experiences, opportunities to teach, a transition to residency rotation and a scholarly capstone.

Q: Have many other medical schools adopted similar curricula? Were there other schools that UConn modeled itself after?

A: Many schools are immersed in curricular reform processes. In some cases the reform is more evolutionary and in others more revolutionary. Our reform efforts are a mix of these. We wanted to retain our very successful early immersion in clinical experiences in community and academic practices half-day per week as one example.

Wright State University has been very helpful to us in the development of our team-based learning (TBL) pedagogies. Many of our faculty went to visit the school to observe TBL in action.

We are also collaborating with Indiana University in implementing the use of a teaching electronic medical record.

Q: How long does it take to change a curriculum?

A: This curriculum reform process took us over three years to accomplish.

Q: One of the changes involves placing each student with a primary-care physician in an outpatient practice at UConn Health or with community faculty throughout the state. What's the thinking behind that? And, why start so early in the education process?

A: In the 1990's the UConn School of Medicine was on the cutting edge of early clinical exposure with the development of the SCP (Student Continuity Practice) course. In fact, many other schools added our innovation into their educational programs.

The thought behind this course was to allow students to apply what they are learning to relevant clinical scenarios and to become proficient in basic clinical skills. This highlight of our curriculum is preserved in the rebranded CLIC (Clinical Immersion in the Community) course.

Students will be placed in a practice at UConn Health or in the community with one of our faculty. Most students are placed in primary-care practices of internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics. There is a set curriculum that focuses on primary-care skills. We are grateful to the nearly 400 physicians who participate in this experience.

Q: What's the size of the newest medical school class? Are there any renovations and new additions at the UConn School of Medicine?

A: Last month we were fortunate to welcome the largest class in our history of 100 new medical students and 49 dental students to our new academic addition that features the academic rotunda — a 17,000-square-foot, team-based learning classroom. The rotunda is outfitted with state-of-the-art technology. It can also be reconfigured with flexibility in other configurations for events and conferences.

Space renovations also include conversion of one of the human anatomy labs to a virtual anatomy lab, additional small classrooms for collaborative learning and an enhanced simulation center.

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