Northwestern’s Prep Program Helps Medical Students’ Transition Into Residency

Northwestern Feinberg Medical School Curriculum

The new curriculum at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, launched four years ago, has provided the Class of 2016 with earlier patient interactions, more team-based learning and an additional focus on professional development. Fourth-year medical students completed a new two-week capstone course, revisiting concepts and skills in preparation for their transition to residency.  

This is the first time this course has been offered, and it culminates the experience of the new curriculum,” said David Salzman, MD, MEd, director of Simulation for Undergraduate Medical Education.

According to the Capstone Overview, students serve as consultants to an organization and identify an information problem or need. They then develop an approach and practical methods needed to address the problem, conduct the research and present the findings in both oral and written formats.

Developed during winter quarter (January-March) and implemented during spring quarter (April through June) Capstone projects are the culmination of students’ learning and experience through their program. It distills the knowledge and skills acquired in academic courses and applies them to a real-world project.

The course helps students prepare for the start of residency and gives them a broad exposure to skills they will practice,” added David Salzman, MD, MEd, director of Simulation for Undergraduate Medical Education.

A major benefit offered by capstone is that it provides students an opportunity to synthesize and apply material previously covered in the curriculum.

Entering residents are expected to be able to perform specific tasks from day one of their residencies – an expectation held by the Association of American Medical Colleges. These tasks, known as Entrustable Professional Activities, are assessed during capstones.

At the end of the day, our graduates need to be competent, skilled and compassionate physicians,” said Diane B. Wayne, ’91 MD, vice dean for Education and Dr. John Sherman Appleman Professor of Medicine and Medical Education.

Practicing difficult conversations with patients or family members and the process of transitioning care from one provider to another were included in these small group sessions. Concepts such as management of fluids and electrolytes, pain management and diagnostic tool interpretations were reviewed in large interactive group discussions.

After reviewing the specialty sessions, I feel less nervous about starting residency than I did a few weeks ago,” said Justine Seidenfeld, who matched in emergency medicine at Cook County’s Stroger Hospital.

Joseph Bryant
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