The medical school model that has existed for decades involves two years of study in the basic sciences followed by two years of clinical study. An initiative underway at Penn State College of Medicine will involve students in developing a new curriculum that integrates the two areas of study, with a goal of preparing physicians for the new realities of health care.
Beginning in July 2016, as many as eight students at the University Park Regional Campus in State College will work with medical educators to design the new curriculum. These students would receive a stipend during their year as curriculum design partners and receive free housing. They would also receive a partial scholarship for each of their subsequent years in medical school and be admitted to the new program’s inaugural class starting in July 2017, at which time they would be joined by as many as eight additional students.
“We have the opportunity to think about how medical education is designed for the doctors of tomorrow,” said Dr. Terry Wolpaw, vice dean for educational affairs at the College of Medicine. “We can be a bit more creative, innovative and daring – while also making sure that what we do is based on the latest and best scientific evidence about learning.”
The new curriculum at the Regional Campus will include a flexible and integrated program of study that highlights early clinical experiences and community engagement, and with a deep foundation in scholarship and humanistic care. Students will participate as design partners in all phases of curriculum development and revision.
“We want students to see the side-by-side integration of science and patient care because that’s how we practice medicine today,” said Dr. Jeffrey G. Wong, associate dean for medical education at the University Park Regional Campus. “The program will prepare students to practice evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing healthcare environment.”
New, successful approaches developed at the Regional Campus could eventually be expanded to the College of Medicine’s Hershey campus.
Currently, more than 50 third- and fourth-year medical students attend the Regional Campus.
This program is another example of the College of Medicine’s innovative approaches. In 2013, the College of Medicine was one of 11 schools to receive a $1 million grant from the American Medical Association as part of a program aimed at transforming the way the physicians of tomorrow are trained.