College of Medicine Launches New MD Curriculum
by Dan Heinkel
Web Content Writer, College of Medicine
Starting in August 2017, the College of Medicine will implement a new innovative MD curriculum called “Foundations and Frontiers.”
Foundations and Frontiers will replace the current lecture-based curriculum with a focus on small group learning and clinical problem solving. The new curriculum emphasizes interprofessional teamwork and communication as well as cultural competence and civic engagement. It also leverages the College’s state-of-the-art simulation center and clinical education center where students can apply what they have learned in the classroom with hands-on training.
"Our curriculum is changing because the skills, abilities, and knowledge required to be a physician in the 21st century have fundamentally changed,” says Valerie Weber, MD, MS, vice dean for educational affairs.
The core structure of medical school curriculum—two years of basic science followed by two years of clinical work—has been in place since 1910. The College of Medicine recognized a need to adapt this century-old model to meet the demands of the nation's changing health care system.
“Medical knowledge changes rapidly, requiring physicians to be self-directed learners. Patients increasingly are engaged in obtaining information from the Internet and other sources, so the physician must be a translator of such information for patients,” says Dr. Weber. “Informatics, quality and patient safety, and population health are all areas that have emerged as critical skills for physicians.”
Foundations and Frontiers will prepare students by instilling all of the enduring qualities essential to clinical excellence while also including essential emerging competencies required by today’s physicians.
Foundations and Frontiers is a four-year curriculum that has been divided into three phases. The “Foundations” phase lays the groundwork for basic and clinical science during years one and two. The “Applications” phase allows students to extend their patient care knowledge and skills to a variety of clinical settings during year three. Lastly, the “Transitions” phase focuses on advanced clinical skills and preparation for residency during year four.
The “Frontiers” portion of the curriculum will occur during four 1-week blocks when students will focus on cutting-edge areas such as health informatics, population health, quality and patient safety, biotechnology, health care systems and financing, and principles of translational research—all of which will be presented in collaboration with other colleges within Drexel University.
Additionally, as part of the new curriculum, incoming students will be placed in one of four “learning societies.” Each society is led by a faculty director and student representatives, all of whom are responsible for coordinating and planning society activities. The society-associated faculty will also serve as advisers to small groups of students in the first two years of the educational program.
Foundations and Frontiers was created with input from current students, faculty, alumni and national medical education experts. The program builds on the College of Medicine's legacy in medical education and embraces Drexel University's reputation for innovation and collaboration.
“Drexel University's strengths in engineering, informatics, public health, and other areas afford us opportunities that no other medical school has,” says Dr. Weber. “We have a proud tradition, and we have a strong curriculum now. But, to paraphrase A.J. Drexel, "We must change as the world changes or we'll be left behind."
For more information about the new Foundations and Frontiers curriculum, please visit the Drexel Medicine website.