Anatomy as the backbone of an integrated first year medical curriculum: Design and implementation

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Abstract

Morehouse School of Medicine chose to restructure its first year medical curriculum in 2005. The anatomy faculty had prior experience in integrating courses, stemming from the successful integration of individual anatomical sciences courses into a single course called Human Morphology. The integration process was expanded to include the other first year basic science courses (Biochemistry, Physiology, and Neurobiology) as we progressed toward an integrated curriculum. A team, consisting of the course directors, a curriculum coordinator, and the Associate Dean for Educational and Faculty Affairs, was assembled to build the new curriculum. For the initial phase, the original course titles were retained but the lecture order was reorganized around the Human Morphology topic sequence. The material from all four courses was organized into four sequential units. Other curricular changes included placing laboratories and lectures more consistently in the daily routine, reducing lecture time from 120 to 90 minute blocks, eliminating unnecessary duplication of content, and increasing the amount of independent study time. Examinations were constructed to include questions from all courses on a single test, reducing the number of examination days in each block from three to one. The entire restructuring process took two years to complete, and the revised curriculum was implemented for the students entering in 2007. The outcomes of the restructured curriculum include a reduction in the number of contact hours by 28%, higher or equivalent subject examination average scores, enhanced student satisfaction, and a first year curriculum team better prepared to move forward with future integration. Anat Sci Educ 4:157–169, 2011. © 2011 American Association of Anatomists.

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