Hello, future.

Hello, future.

Class of 2016 is the first to fully experience the College of Medicine’s new curriculum

 By Melanie Stawicki Azam

Photo by Jesse S. Jones.

Sitting in the small conference room, Kevin McDaniel calmly answered a lengthy string of questions from the eight first-year medical students seated around an oval, wooden table.

After his interview concluded, the 65-year old man, who is a standardized patient at the college, looked at the students’ instructor, Melanie Hagen, M.D., and commented, “Overall, I think they did very well.”

Welcome to the future of medical education.

Early exposure to patients, integrating clinical skill development throughout training and small group collaborative learning are three key components of the UF College of Medicine’s new curriculum changes, said Joseph Fantone, M.D., the college’s senior associate dean for educational affairs.

The class of 2016 will be the first class to fully experience the college’s new curriculum changes this fall. For example, the class is divided into groups of eight students, which are assigned to one clinical faculty member who facilitates weekly group learning activities and provides mentoring, especially during the first three years of medical school.

Hagen, an associate professor of medicine in the UF College of Medicine, said the small group sessions allow her to get to know students better and follow their growth and development.

Sean Connelly, one of Hagen students, appreciates the intimate learning setting.

“It’s very open and easy to share,” he said.

The revised curriculum is aimed at enhancing the educational experience for UF medical students and better preparing them for their careers in medicine.

The UF College of Medicine curriculum revision process, which began in 2010, is guided by principles developed by a broad group of UF faculty and students, Fantone said.

The new curriculum builds on the many strengths of the previous one, which was discipline-based and largely followed the tradition of two years of basic science learning followed by two years of clinical practice experience.

The revised curriculum offers a more integrated and patient-centered experience, combining biomedical, social and behavioral sciences with clinical experiences throughout the four years of medical school. Topics such as population health, patient safety and quality, and evidence-based practice also are woven as threads throughout the curriculum.

“It’s educating students in the context in which they will be applying their knowledge and skills,” Fantone said.