Temple University School of Medicine introduced a new integrated curriculum beginning with the class entering in fall 2005.
Temple University School of Medicine previously provided a curriculum that was four years in length and culminated in a MD degree. It consisted of 158 student instructional weeks with approximately 25 instructional hours each week in Years 1 and 2 and approximately 45 instructional and patient contact hours each week in Years 3 and 4.
Similar to approximately a third of U.S. medical schools, for several decades the School of Medicine employed a discipline-based curricula. In another model, curricula are based upon body and organ systems. We believe that such curricula provide better integration of material across basic sciences and between basic and clinical sciences. We have therefore chosen to introduce an Integrated Curriculum (IC) in Academic Year 2005-06.
The curricular content taught in the new IC is similar to the previous curriculum; however, the way in which it is taught has changed. Instead of being divided into a number of courses based in and administered by the academic departments, the IC is now divided into a number of interdisciplinary “blocks.” Each block is organized according to body or organ systems and planned and taught in a coordinated fashion by faculty from a number of basic science and clinical academic departments. As an example, students in the previous curriculum were taught about the normal structure of the body in three different anatomy courses and the normal function of the human body in the physiology and biochemistry courses. Students in the IC are now taught about the cardiovascular system in two “cardiovascular blocks". One block in Year 1 presents in an integrated fashion the relevant anatomy, biochemistry and physiology. A second block in Year 2 presents the major disease processes (pathology and pathophysiology) and therapeutic options (pharmacology, pathophysiology, medicine, surgery). The clerkships in Years 3 and 4 are now discipline-based, similar to the previous curriculum, but there are some modifications.
The clerkship in Neurology has moved from Year 4 to Year 3. Ambulatory medicine in the new, integrated curriculum now receives additional emphasis in Year 3. In Year 4, required clerkships have been added in Radiology and Critical Care Medicine. The number of elective clerkships have been reduced from 5 to 4. Teaching strategies now place additional emphasis on the incorporation of basic science principles into clinical medicine.
Identical to the previous curriculum, Temple University School of Medicine's new IC consists of 158 weeks of instruction over four years leading to the MD degree but without areas of concentration or specialization. Instruction in Years 1 and 2 have been shortened from the previous 75 weeks to 70 weeks. Instruction in Years 3 and 4 has been lengthened from the current 83 weeks to 88 weeks. The Year 3 portion of the curriculum, instead of beginning in July of the third year, now begins in May of the second year and concludes in April of the third year, followed immediately by the Year 4 portion of the curriculum.
Throughout the new curriculum, additional emphasis is placed on contemporary teaching technologies. Many instructional materials are now offered in electronic format, replacing large group lectures and microscope-based laboratories. Some examinations are given on-line. Construction of the William Maul Measey Institute for Clinical Simulation and Patient Safety has been completed and now enhances student learning and evaluation by expanding the use of standardized (live, trained) patients and introducing the use of newly-acquired electronic clinical simulators. Video conferencing can accommodate off-campus learning sites.
We believe that an integrated curriculum more closely reflects the way in which students will be expected to identify and address clinical problems in both their educational and professional careers. It therefore penetrates the somewhat artificial barriers inherent in basic science discipline-based courses and encourages the students to think about medical issues more comprehensively, integrating fundamental basic science and clinical principles. We also believe that our integrated curriculum better prepares students for the licensing examinations that are a requirement for graduation.
Temple University School of Medicine is confident that our newly introduced integrated curriculum is educationally advantageous to its medical students, facilitating their acquisition of an increasingly large body of biomedical information in a more efficient manner through the integration of basic science and medical information and placing both in relevant clinical contexts.