How Medical School Curriculums Are Changing For The Better
Medical schools are responding to new innovations in medicine and new healthcare needs of the population by adjusting their student curriculums towards new styles of integrated teaching. This transition from a traditional top-down educational approach to a more interactive and engaging curriculum signals that medical schools have taken note of how our healthcare system has evolved, and that they are taking a very thoughtful approach to design a curriculum that can create the next generation of physician leaders.
The traditional structure of medical education has been in place since 1910, involving two years of basic science training to take place in the classroom followed by two years of hands-on medical training in a clinical setting. Critics have claimed that this teaching system is obsolete and out of touch with the challenges and healthcare needs of our modern society.
This has triggered many prominent medical training institutions in the U.S. to rethink traditional methods. NYU, Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia have all taken steps to overhaul their current medical training structure and redesign a curriculum that is intended to be more interactive. One of the main aims of these curriculum redesigns is to teach students to fully understand concepts and develop critical-thinking skills early on in their medical training, rather than have the first two years of medical school be devoted to rote memorization of facts that will likely be forgotten after a final exam.
In recent years we have seen a sea change as more and more institutions and organizations are recognizing the need for innovation and new approaches to medical education. Students at Harvard Medical School are now introduced to clinical settings and patient interactions much earlier, and take integrated courses that blend multiple disciplines so as to maximize student understanding. At Penn State College of Medicine, first-year students fill the role of “patient navigators”, illustrating how training has shifted to focus more on healthcare delivery. In a similar fashion, students of Hofstra School of Medicine spend their first eight weeks of medical school becoming certified as EM technicians, rather than inside a classroom.
Other programs have adopted a variety of new educational methods that deviate from the traditional model that has been around for over a century. As a result of all this innovation in medical training, medical students are graduating better equipped to solve healthcare delivery challenges, work in team environments, and navigate uncomfortable patient interactions.