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By Katarina A. Lewczyk | Date published: March 1, 2024

Nancy Skehan Leads New Vista Curriculum Initiative  

Nancy Skehan, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, and Clerkship Director for Internal Medicine, has been hard at work in collaboration with UMass Chan faculty members in developing a new medical student curriculum for the Vista program. The new curriculum goes beyond the biomedical and pathophysiological components of patient care and focuses on understanding patient environments and exploring socioeconomic pressures to keep patients healthy following their time in the hospital.  

For the new model of the clerkship, Dr. Skehan and her colleagues were called to emphasize the importance of these factors, while also working in parallel to understand the pathophysiologic components of disease, leading to the creation of the new curriculum. “A lot of the training that we provide in medical education is inpatient-based and allows us to consolidate a lot of experience in a short period of time,” said Dr. Skehan. “The reality of the care that’s actually delivered to our patients is vastly in the outpatient setting.” She and her colleagues recognized that there was a gap in the students’ understanding of what happens to patients when they transition from inpatient care settings to their homes. This resulted in a new curriculum where students will experience a week of transitional care management.  

The new curriculum will be part of a nine-week, Internal Medicine clerkship rotation, directed by Dr. Skehan, and will consist of a week-long, self-directed process, where students will experience components of the post-acute care environment by observing care delivered in the outpatient setting, such as acute and subacute rehabilitation, accountable care organizations, and physical and occupational therapy. Students will then work in small groups to co-teach each other on the various environments and aspects of outpatient care. Dr. Skehan hopes that through the new curriculum, UMass Chan will form various partnerships with the post-acute care community where future medical students can continue to learn and immerse themselves in outpatient experiences.  

Dr. Skehan believes this curriculum is unique because the students are taking a self-guided approach and are teaching what they have learned to their classmates. Additionally, the enthusiasm from community partners to help students understand this material early on in their studies is equally important and unique to the process. “I think what is exciting is the enthusiasm that we have from community partners. For this to be successful, we had to go beyond the walls of UMass Memorial where students can go into facilities where people are receiving this care and see what’s happening out in the world,” said Dr. Skehan. 

The new curriculum will be offered starting in April of this year.