Curriculum update: Phase 1 courses ready; statewide standardization and more

May 5, 2016

In just four short months, the IU School of Medicine will launch its new curriculum. The Course Implementation Teams (CITs) have nearly completed planning for the Phase 1 courses to greet the Class of 2020.  Now IUSM will commission new CITs to turn our focus to the clinical curriculum that follows in Phases 2 and 3. Bradley Allen, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for Medical Student Education, discussed recent developments with the school-wide curriculum renewal effort.

The Course Implementation Teams (CITs) have nearly completed planning for the Phase 1 courses to greet the Class of 2020. | Photo By IU School of Medicine

How is design of the new curriculum progressing?

We’re currently putting the finishing touches on the Phase 1 courses that will be offered at all nine regional campuses beginning in August. Phase 1 covers material in the foundational sciences that is currently delivered over the first two years of study in the legacy curriculum. Our CITs, which will become Phase 1 Course Management Teams (CMTs) this fall, are helping our regional campuses prepare to deliver these new integrated courses in ways they haven’t in the past, which is exciting. With representation and input from all campuses, the teams are focusing on how the courses can be delivered in a standardized manner across the state. Finishing touches also include identifying faculty to lead small-group learning experiences.

In what ways will the new curriculum be standardized statewide?

With the new curriculum, we’ve standardized not only course goals and objectives across campuses, but also the methods we’re using to teach the content. The LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education) expectation is that no more than 50 percent of course material be delivered in lecture format. This allows opportunities to employ both small-group learning and learning technology to engage students and boost interest in a way that’s not often possible with lecture-heavy courses.

All IUSM campuses will administer identical tests at the end of course sections to more accurately gauge the effectiveness of content delivery at each campus. Grade determinations will also be consistent across the state since the same evaluation tools will be used.  

What is the status of Phase 2 (the clerkships)?

Now that we’re ready to deliver Phase 1, we’re beginning to focus more intently on our clinical curriculum, which includes taking a fresh look at how we deliver our required clerkships across the state. The same tenets used to create consistency in the Phase 1 foundational sciences courses will be integrated into our clinical clerkships to leverage the variety of exceptional experiences across the state. As part of the process, we’ll be developing consistent, standardized objectives and oversight for clerkships at sites statewide for all students. 

Are there aspects of the new curriculum that are being implemented now, with current IUSM students?

As previously mentioned, IUSM’s legacy curriculum has and will change as new ideas and plans resulting from curriculum renewal are fleshed out -- especially during implementation of Phases 2 and 3. For example, we’re starting to build electives that facilitate career exploration during the third year. This will allow earlier access to experiences in different clinical disciplines. We’re also pleased to start the pilot phase of sub-internship rotations in family medicine and pediatrics this fall and expect the number of clinical disciplines with sub-internships to grow in the next year or two.

In addition, new Campus Connection days are planned between clinical rotations to allow time for students to connect with fellow students, develop their sense of purpose as medical professionals, and focus on their personal health and wellness.

How are students currently engaged in the new curriculum design?

We’ve benefited from the ideas and input of student representatives on each of our CITs and plan on continuing student involvement with the CMTs. Students will also be part of the teams reviewing clerkship rotation organization. We continue to seek feedback from all students on our mentoring and advising program to ensure it optimally supports and enhances student experiences. 

What’s next for the new curriculum?

Input from faculty and students across the state has been extremely helpful in creating Phase 1, so we’ll be using similar working groups to address current and future management of the clerkships. Using this same process with the clinical rotations, we’ll take advantage of our stellar statewide clinical opportunities, while delivering a consistent set of objectives for each clinical discipline.

We’re also beginning to interview for the assistant dean positions for Phases 2 and 3, as we start to address these aspects of the new curriculum.