Second year of new medical school curriculum approved


Robert Carlin Photography
This year’s class of medical students was among the first to use the new Integrated Teaching and Learning Center, designed especially to support implementation the new Learner-centered Integrated Curriculum, which integrates basic science with clinical education throughout all four years. The space makes the most of new technology that allows students and instructors to interact in real time using laptops and classroom-based computers.


The class of medical students who arrived on campus in August is the inaugural class at UMass Medical School to be taught the practice of medicine in a new way, reflecting a fundamental change in how courses are constructed. As these students approach the half-way point of their first year, the Learner-centered Integrated Curriculum (LInC) trustees and course co-leaders have been finalizing plans for the second-year curriculum.

As was approved by the Educational Policy Committee on Nov. 1, second-year medical students can look forward to tackling organ systems before they break for the summer, using case studies to apply foundational knowledge to real-life examples, working with their second-year nursing school peers in a community-based experience and honing their skills in reasoning—from undifferentiated symptoms to underlying pathophysiology.

Among the new courses that will be introduced is The Brain, a course that will span the second year and present an overview of neuroanatomy and systems neurophysiology; neuropathology and neurology; and psychiatry and behavioral science. The three content areas will be integrated to emphasize the approach that disorders of these systems are disorders of the whole person.

Other organ systems will be covered in the Organ System Diseases course, including cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney/urinary, digestive, musculoskeletal and skin, endocrinology and reproduction. While nutrition was touched upon as an integrated element of the first year, it is a more prominent component in the second year as whole-body systems are explored.

Common threads throughout both years of Foundations of Medicine are Doctoring/Clinical Skills and Integrated Case Exercises, or ICE. ICE provides structured opportunities for students to use case studies to apply foundational knowledge. Cases will be presented from across the curriculum, according to Melissa Fischer, MD, MEd, associate dean for undergraduate education, associate professor of medicine and chair of the LInC trustees, who led a town hall meeting on the Medical School campus to introduce the next phase of the new curriculum. She also praised broad involvement from students, residents, faculty and administrators across the institution in designing this curriculum.

“It really has been a wonderful team effort. Through partnering with students, including the inaugural LInC class, we hope to reinforce the professional culture of advocacy and involvement in the system that is so important for health care moving forward,” said Dr. Fischer.

Doctoring/ Clinical Skills uses the learning communities as the primary means for students to engage in developing clinical skills, and receiving and providing mentoring. One such experience introduced this year is a clinical immersion opportunity where each student joins a clinical team for a day, accompanies the team on rounds, meets with an individual patient and follows up with that patient’s nurse or nursing team.

For additional information about the new LInC curriculum, visit:

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