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Paving the way for a new curriculum

In March, the curriculum redesign working groups released the initial draft of the framework for the revised medical curriculum, part of the process of preparing the new curriculum for its launch in 2015.

Tim Lahey, the project leader and an associate professor of medicine, says that the draft is far from a finished product but does reflect the major goals of the redesign effort. Those goals include an increased focus on active learning, further integration of basic science and clinical work, the addition of a longitudinal element to the clinical experience, and the inclusion of an elective master's program in health-care evaluation and innovation.

"I'm proud of it," he says. But, he adds, "there's still a long way to go."

Lahey notes that faculty members have raised a number of important questions about how the curriculum will be implemented. "A natural response that people have had is, 'Where am I on that plan?'" Lahey says. "'How do I get engaged?'" Another common question has been to ask for more details about the integration of clinical and basic science elements of the curriculum. Lahey and other members of the redesign working groups are listening to those and other concerns and will use them to create a revised draft, which will be circulated for additional discussion, building toward votes by the medical education committee and the full faculty.

Although there is a lot of work left to do, Lahey believes the draft marks an important step toward implementing the curriculum in 2015. He adds that the recent site visit made by surveyors from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) affirmed that the redesign is headed in the right direction. "They were really impressed with Geisel, but they did have some specific areas for improvement that they mentioned," Lahey says. "They talked specifically about moving away from an emphasis on lectures to emphasizing more active, engaged approaches that stimulate clinical thinking on the part of our students, which is clearly a part of this proposal."

The complete revised curriculum will not be implemented until 2015, but some components of medical education at Geisel are already changing. Over the past year, a pilot program in the first-year On Doctoring course tested a longitudinal component. In another new initiative, the Class of 2016 received iPads upon arriving at Geisel for use in their coursework, which will continue with the Class of 2017. The iPads have already allowed for the introduction of new elements into the teaching of first-year courses. Additional active-learning components have also been added to the medical pharmacology course taken by second-year students. These and other new elements of the curriculum are helping to pave the way for additional changes to be made in the coming years.

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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College