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School of Medicine Launches New Medical Education Curriculum

New Curriculum Integrates Basic Science and Clinical Course Content and Allows Students to Enter Clerkships Earlier

September 06, 2022

The School of Medicine (SOM) Class of 2026 will be the first class to experience the new medical education curriculum launched this year at New York Medical College (NYMC). The new curriculum, which was developed by a broad representation of SOM administration, faculty and students, integrates basic science and clinical course content during the first eighteen months of medical education, while also allowing students to enter clerkships much earlier in their education.   

“In the old curriculum, the discipline-based courses, such as histology, anatomy, pathophysiology and pharmacology, were taught separately. Now we’ve completely integrated those courses so they no longer exist in isolation,” said Pamela Ludmer, M.D., M.S., associate dean for curriculum integration. “The first new course, Fundamental Processes of Life, incorporates the basic foundational principles from some of these different disciplines, as well as biochemistry, ethics and patient care. This is extremely important because as physicians, we don’t think of pharmacology, anatomy and histology, for example, separately from patient care. We look at the patient as a whole person and think of everything as being connected. And so, we want to teach our medical students how to integrate this knowledge together from the start.”

Later in the first year of the new curriculum, students take an introduction to systems course, which bridges the content from the fundamental processes course, introduces concepts that will be applied throughout the remaining courses and further integrates basic science with patient care and health systems science principles.

“The focus is to create courses that are not siloed but are integrated organ systems-based, including brain and behavior, cardiorespiratory, renal/reproductive/endocrine and gastroenterology/dermatology/rheumatology,” said Dr. Ludmer. “Another important area of focus is health system science, in which we teach students concepts that allow them to function in a very complex healthcare system – patient safety, quality improvement, high value care, leadership and teamwork. And this is something we’ve been incorporating not just into this new curriculum but for all our classes of students.”

“One of the most gratifying aspects of the development of this new curriculum has been how hard the faculty have worked,” said Dr. Ludmer. “Putting this all together was much more than just moving established lectures to different places in the curriculum. It required a completely new approach to teaching with basic science faculty and clinicians working together to ensure the coursework is fully integrated.”

In addition, as part of the new curriculum, students will also enter clerkships three months earlier – in April of their second year of medical education – allowing them more time to solidify their clinical skills, complete scholarly projects and prepare for residency.

“Previously, students were starting their advanced clerkships at the start of fourth year in July, giving them only a few months before they needed to make their choice of specialty decisions and begin applying to residency programs,” said Dr. Ludmer.