Curriculum Overview

medical student discussing bulletin board posting with physician
"Curriculum focuses on the concept of education across the continuum ..."

The curriculum at the USA College of Medicine focuses on the concept of education across the continuum. It is fueled by the challenge in medical education of how best to move the matriculating medical student along the pathway to becoming a competent physician and lifelong learner. The job is complex as young physicians must be able to satisfy an ever increasing level of competency in all aspects of their profession. The goal at the College of Medicine is to provide a dynamic plan of learning expectations and awareness in training of what needs to be accomplished toward expertise of becoming a competent physician.

The educational learning objectives are framed around the six core competencies for medical training delineated by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and American Board of Medical Specialties in 1999. The College of Medicine curriculum is devoted to the integrated instruction of all competencies beginning in the first week of medical school. Replacing traditional discipline-based basic science courses, instruction commences with a two-year sequence of modules devoted to different organ systems.

Using the cardiovascular system as an example, students learn basic medical knowledge covering the structure, function and pathology of the heart and medical treatment of heart conditions. At the same time students learn to monitor and evaluate heart sounds and interpret other diagnostic tests while acquiring professional and interpersonal communication skills needed for accurate diagnosis, documentation of care and relating effectively with heart patients.

Years three and four of training also changed significantly in the competency-based, integrated curriculum. The objectives, pedagogy, and assessment of all clinical rotations are integrated to satisfy the continuum and to optimally prepare students to enter residency programs with previously established competency-driven curricula. In addition, the focus on vertical training that intensifies the clinical experience introduced into the first two years expands the delivery of basic medical knowledge and its application into clinical settings.

The goal of engaging students in a holistic curriculum across the full four years of medical school at USA has improved training and competency in all areas that define the science and art of doctoring. Progress toward the synthesis of skills into observable behaviors related to each competency are carefully assessed in a series of milestones designed to achieve national standards of excellence at every level of training during the entire undergraduate medical education program.