One of the most exciting things about our new curriculum is that we are
changing the way we teach. We’re starting students in a clinical
environment very early, even the first week or two of school. We shouldn’t have a course in which the way in which we teach the students
is the same way that I learned when I was in medical school. HMS has had a long and glorious history
of educating physicians, scientists, innovators, and leaders, and
one of secrets of our success has been our ability to evolve our
curriculum in response to changes in pedagogy and changes in the external world in
which our students will graduate. The big picture up the new curriculum
is trying to introduce the basic sciences that
students need to know to enter the clinic more quickly. Most medical schools start with two years of pre-clinical work and then and then two years of clinical work. And our feeling is that much of the basic science is actually best learned after you’ve had some clinical experience. So instead of having a kind of stratified
system where you spend two years in the classroom and then two years in the clinic, the idea is to now interweave these elements. The core clerkship year, which we’re moving from year three to year two is itself one of the centerpieces of our curriculum. Students go to one of the finest hospitals in the country. After that principal clinical year, we’ll
bring everyone back together — the students and the faculty — and will be able to take advantage of
what they learned during that year, really build upon the experiences
they had taken care patients and interacting with clinicians. I think you have a greater context for
how to really internalize the information that you’re being given — why the basic science actually matters when you applied to a patient case. Another particularly exciting thing about the new curricular design is the opportunity it will give students
in the third and fourth year to individualize their experience. The idea here is to really give students say in what they learn in what degree of
depth. So a student who was interested neurology or psychiatry might very well
want and need to take more advanced courses in the pathophysiology of brain disorders. This curriculum is about the core concepts to you need to function as a doctor, learning those, learning how to think,
learning how to apply that at the bedside with your patients. That’s the fun part in medicine. That’s
the stuff that will last with you for your entire career. I couldn’t be more excited about the
pathways curriculum that we will be introducing next year. Throughout the process of creating this new curriculum I reflected on my own years at Harvard Medical School, and I am truly excited by the changes that
we’re presenting. We need to incorporate ways of teaching that accept and allow for and highlight the use of new technology. It’s really allowing us to re-conceptualize how we think about teaching and really the process of becoming a physician. I think two real advantages of this
change, particularly for the social population
sciences but really across the whole curriculum, are
the efforts and the work that we’re doing to
integrate all the right pieces together. Harvard Medical School is a unique environment to transition from
being a pre-medical student to a highly
competent physician. We have incredible support for our
students here. We have wonderful faculty looking after
them both academically and personally, advising them, trying to nurture all of
their unique talents toward the career goals they set for themselves, and we have a lot of fun as we do it as
well.