Miller School of Medicine Unveils Innovative Medical Education Program

Faculty Members to Facilitate Self-Directed Student Learning Approach

The Miller School of Medicine is in the process of developing a new medical education strategy with an innovative approach to training future physicians. “We are adopting an interactive self-directed learning model to augment the traditional lecture,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy. “This is a dramatic change that will allow us to teach medical students more effectively and efficiently and to deliver our graduate medical education programs to a much wider group of physicians.”

Under the new model, Miller School faculty would serve as facilitators, coaches and guides, leading small-group, case-based learning sessions following online or in-person presentations in that curriculum. Gardner added that the School is already beginning to implement some aspects of the proposed program, which will be rolled out gradually as additional resources are identified.

“Instead of giving the students the basic information, our faculty will clarify the key points, respond to questions and help identify new sources of information,” said Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education. “To support that shift, we plan to add more small-group teaching rooms with the latest educational technology. Through online student “dashboards,” our faculty will be able to assess each student’s progress and determine where personalized tutoring or other support might be necessary.”

For example, the Miller educational team might video a faculty member giving an introductory lecture on anatomy or pathology. That video could be divided into shorter 10- to 15-minute segments focusing on the key concepts. Students could watch those videos, as many times as necessary, and then discuss the issues in a small-group setting. “Those group learning sessions will also provide the framework for team-based learning exercises, helping our students develop the interactive communications skills they will need as working clinicians,” said Mark T. O’Connell, M.D., senior associate dean for educational development.

Before launching the new educational program, the Miller School of Medicine has conducted an intensive strategic planning process that involved more than 30 faculty volunteers drafting the plan and many more commenting and revising in a variety of settings, according to Gardner. The program incorporates several suggestions and methods recommended by Bangladeshi-Indian-American educator Salman Khan, creator of The Khan Academy, a non-profit online educational organization, and author of “The One World Schoolhouse.”

As part of the strategic “rethinking” of the delivery of medical education, the Miller School team outlined several key goals for the new program:

• Building competencies in the practice of personalized medicine that focus on relationship-centered care, cross-cultural care, early childhood development and behavior, and the use of biotechnology in the prevention, detection and management of disease.

• Emphasizing individual and community wellness based on personalized medical care and health promotion, complementing the School’s ongoing training in the management of acute and chronic illness.

• Becoming a regional leader in graduate medical education offering programs that exemplify best practices to medical professionals who are leaders in healthcare research and delivery in their communities. This objective also supports the development of the University’s UHealth clinical network.

• Enhancing the School’s relationship with alumni of its undergraduate and graduate medical education programs by creating opportunities for involvement in education programs and other activities.

• Making dual-degree programs such as the M.D./M.P.H. more affordable, accessible, and time-efficient.

• Increasing the number and quality of international residents trained at the School.

• Providing consultative support to the School’s international academic partners.

“Eventually, our School will move away from a traditional calendar-based approach to medical education to create a true competency-based program,” said Gardner. “That would allow many students to complete the first two years of our program more rapidly, shortening the time necessary to obtain a degree, while other students would be able to master the core competencies at a slower pace.”

Reflecting on the new approach, Gardner said, “The Miller School of Medicine program is designed to create an educational environment that cultivates a commitment to excellence through collaboration and life-long learning. It will also serve as a model that can expand the University’s role into a wide range of academic, clinical and research settings.”

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