How Vanderbilt aims to train better doctors
Sep 18, 2014
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine was already considering a change to its medical school curriculum a few years ago when the American Medical Association announced a five-year grant program for just such a transformation.
Along with 10 other medical schools, Vanderbilt eventually landed the five-year, $1 million grant from the AMA, part of the group’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative. Next week, one year into the program, Vanderbilt and its peer institutions will gather in Nashville for a consortium meeting to discuss their progress in implementing challenges leaders from the AMA and Vanderbilt say have long been needed.
“Physician training for many years has been strong in science, but it hasn’t kept up with the way that we’re developing health care currently,” said Susan Skochelak, group vice president for medical education at the American Medical Association. “It’s not that medical training has been broken, it’s just that it needs to move into a whole new direction.”
For Vanderbilt, that new direction includes an increased focus on experiential learning earlier in the education process, said Bonnie Miller, Vanderbilt’s associate vice chancellor for health affairs and senior associate dean for health sciences education.
“Passive delivery of knowledge content wasn’t consistent with how we understand adult learning,” Miller said.
The school has also upped its efforts to give medical students practical experience with the type of critical thinking and problem solving physicians must do every day, Miller said, making sure that students learn how to know what they know, what they don’t know, and where they can find the answers. Plus, she said, the school wants students to understand more than just the patient in front of them, but also the broader health care delivery system and population management.
Curriculum 2.0, as the revision is known, includes a “longitudinal thread” on the medical field’s foundations that runs throughout the four-year medical education process, Miller said, and overall provides a “much broader look at medicine, at health, at health care delivery.”
Since Vanderbilt was already working on a change when they won the AMA grant, the school has been implementing the new model for a few years, Miller said. After some initial pilots starting in 2011, the class that entered Vanderbilt in 2012 is completing a “hybrid” curriculum between the old and new models, while students that matriculated in 2013 are the first to fully experience Curriculum 2.0.
Next week’s conference will provide an opportunity to share successes and challenges, Miller said, something the participating schools will do twice a year every year of the grant.
Both Miller and Skochelak said the grant was a form of validation: for Vanderbilt, that their approach was needed, and for the AMA, that schools saw the need to make a change.
More than 100 schools applied for the program, Skochelak said, meaning not only that the selected schools represent the “cream of the crop,” but also that the broader medical education community is “ready” for new models.
And while only 11 schools have received the AMA funding, Skochelak said that not only are those programs working together, but other schools are already eager to follow suit.
“There’s a great deal of work underway already,” Skochelak said. “… In a year, these schools are already doing some incredible things.”