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New medical curriculum prepares graduates to practice 21st century medicine


UC Davis School of Medicine’s innovative new program is transforming the way medical students learn and prepare for careers in medicine in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

In problem-based learning groups, students study and present learning goals to the group twice a week

The new program, known as I-EXPLORE, short for Integrated Explorative Patient- and Learner-Oriented Education, was implemented for first-year medical students at the start of this academic year. It emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration and focuses on the pillars of biomedical science, clinical science, and health system science.

“The I-EXPLORE program is designed to prioritize collaboration, diversity, community needs, and learner-centered education, resulting in patient-centered care,” said said Kristin Olson, associate dean for curriculum and medical education. “Students will have the opportunity to gain knowledge, skills and experience to become the thought leaders and agents of change for the future.”

First-year medical students are currently in the preclerkship phase of the I-EXPLORE program. This means that they learn through a combination of different types of teaching with the goal of more effective learning.

An important aspect of the preclerkship program is the formal role of problem-based learning. During each course throughout the preclerkship phase, a group of 6-8 students meets three times a week with a problem-based learning facilitator.

In this group, students study a medical case, select learning objectives, identify and evaluate appropriate resources to obtain relevant information, and teach each other the content. Problem-based learning facilitators help guide group sessions using cases and provide students with feedback on their teamwork, communication, and critical thinking.

“The problem-based learning groups mimic the structure of a chief resident leading huddles or rounds,” explained Danielle Alexander, assistant clinical professor of health sciences and problem-based learning facilitator. “This active learning approach builds students’ communication and professionalism skills that they can use while in residency.”

This active learning approach builds students’ communication and professionalism skills that they can use when they are residents. Danielle Alexander

Every Monday, students meet with their facilitator to identify at least eight learning objectives within a clinical case. Each student is then assigned two learning objectives to study on their own and present to the group during the Wednesday and Friday sessions. Students discuss the resources used and work to synthesize and reconcile the information learned. Throughout the program, the facilitator serves as a process expert rather than a content expert, reinforcing the student-directed nature of learning.

“Condensing such complex issues into a four-minute presentation really helped me learn the material better,” said first-year medical student Aneri Patel. “I’m now able to not only understand the concepts better, but I’ve also learned how to lead a conversation about them.”

During problem-based learning groups, students go through the phases of planning, learning, evaluating, and adjusting shown in the diagram. This development allows students to expand their comfort zones, increase their confidence in expressing their knowledge and opinions, and strengthen their ability to participate as senior members of the healthcare team. health.

“The structure of these groups helped reinforce the material we learned in class and got us thinking about how to apply it to specific cases,” said first-year medical student Jonathan Ruiz. “It forces us to think about ways to condense the information and learn how we might share it with a patient.”

The objectives of problem-based learning groups are to promote and practice the following fundamental lifelong learning skills:

  • Self-directed learning emphasizes students’ self-assessment of their learning needs; their independent identification, analysis and synthesis of relevant information; and their assessment of the credibility of information sources.
  • Independent study provides time and opportunities for student-directed learning in the basic medical curriculum, based on structured learning goals to be achieved by students with minimal faculty supervision.
  • Critical Judgment/Critical Thinking: The consideration, evaluation, and organization of evidence from appropriate sources and related rationales during the decision-making process. Demonstrating critical thinking requires the following steps: A) gathering relevant evidence, B) evaluating that evidence, C) organizing that evidence, D) presenting appropriate evidence to support any conclusion, and E) the coherent, logical and organized presentation of any response.

Throughout the problem-based learning process, students also improve their skills in each area of ​​the UC Davis School of Medicine graduation skills: interprofessional and communication skills, knowledge, lifelong learning life, patient care, professionalism and system-based practice.

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