New curriculum advances clinical training for podiatric students
Podiatric students Laal Zada (right) and Shani Gilmore examine Ebony Henderson. Zada, Gilmore and their classmates at the School of Podiatric Medicine are taking part in a new curriculum allowing them to learn alongside their colleagues in the School of Medicine. (Photo by Jeanne Martino)
When the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine joined Temple and became Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in 1998, it was more than just a name change. It allowed for the development of a new curriculum where podiatric students learn side by side with their counterparts at the School of Medicine. The new program was implemented this year.
“The primary goal of the merger was to improve our ability to train our students [on] how to interact with and treat patients,” said Samuel J. Spadone, assistant dean of educational affairs at the School of Podiatric Medicine.
The first year of the program is a compendium of biological sciences, ethics, medical records and lessons in medical history taking. This aspect was borrowed from the Medical School’s Fundamentals of Clinical Care sequence in order to strengthen each podiatric medical student’s physical diagnosis skills and prepare him or her to function in a teaching hospital environment.
The second year provides a unique addition to the usual lower extremity examination coursework. Now the podiatric students are also trained in the comprehensive examination of the principal organ systems, such as the cardiovascular system.
During this time, the students are able to take advantage of standardized patients who are individuals trained to portray actual patients with specific symptoms. According to Spadone, the feedback from the standardized patients along with the advice and criticism from preceptors (practicing physicians who give personal instruction, training and supervision to students) has proven to be highly valuable.
But the most innovative change to the curriculum occurs in the podiatric medical students’ third year of education. Beginning in November, the students will be assigned to area teaching hospitals to begin the first of six off-site medical rotations. These rotations include general orthopedics, infectious diseases, internal medicine, neurology and peripheral vascular disease. They are supplemented by reading assignments and assessed by online examinations.
Senior Daniel Yarmel, 26, found that this hands-on experience inspired confidence and said he thinks it is about time that all podiatric medical students receive the “outside experience” training that other health science schools offer.
“Students at other [podiatric medical] schools are envious of our outside rotations,” Yarmel said. “They’re still doing class work while we’re working with patients.”
Yarmel is now seeing patients at TUSPM’s Foot and Ankle Institute under the supervision of attending physicians, and is looking forward to beginning his residency next year. All TUSPM students also complete 16 months of podiatric medical clerkship at the Foot and Ankle Institute or allied sites during their third and fourth years of training.
“Early feedback from students and the teaching sites has been overwhelmingly positive,” Spadone said. “We are confident this long-overdue paradigm shift in podiatric medical education will yield the dividends we anticipated and more.”
- By Tory Harris