The last major curricular reform took place almost 15 years ago in 2003. While the changes implemented at that time were reflective of the best practices in medical education, they did limit the flexibility afforded to our students for pursuing scholarly interests. With our constant process of quality improvement, we felt the need to reintroduce that flexibility to provide multiple optional pathways for successful scholarship outside the MSTP program.
Starting in Q3, splitting of the second year into 2 strands to allow students the option of taking classes at 50% course load over 2 years. Currently the only option for dedicated research time is to step away from classes for a full year. This option would allow students who elect it to have more time to dedicate to their scholarly projects over a full two-year period without compromising their medical school commitments. We believe that this option will be best for research endeavors (clinical or basic) where a more longitudinal approach is optimal.
Introduction of new courses and restructuring of others
Return to Basic Sciences seminars/electives during clerkship year to leverage our access to innovative cutting-edge research performed at Stanford
The process for redesign and implementing the new curriculum began to take concrete shape 2 years ago under the leadership of Dr. Neil Gesundheit. There have been a number of students, faculty, clinicians, scientists and staff from all parts of the School of Medicine involved in the discussion and execution of the redesign. The graphic below outlines the different committees that have been created.
With the introduction of new courses, revamping of current ones, improvement in teaching quality and the new option to split, all students will be impacted by the redesign. The level of impact will vary depending on the path taken. The fundamental essence of our MD program (grading system, emphasis on research, etc.) will remain unchanged, however there will be improved flexibility in choosing a pathway that optimizes your time, learning experience and scholarly research.
Many students will pursue the traditional route currently offered and take their basic science over 2 years. However, since an overwhelming majority of students already take 5 years or more to complete their medical degree, having the option to stretch the preclinical curriculum over 3 years via the split will give them more time to dedicate to longitudinal scholarly research projects. Students will still have the option of taking a full year of dedicated research, if they and their advisor believes that this is in their best interest.
Splitting the curriculum means stretching out the second year of pre-clinical courses into 2 years by completing it half time. The strands are the tracks through which the second year is split. For example, to complete the Science of Medicine course in a single year (full time), a student would take both strands (A and B) of the course simultaneously. Those who split will take strand A in their second year followed by strand B in their third year.
From an academic perspective, there are types of scholarship (both basic science and clinical) that are best pursued in a concentrated year whereas others are better suited for a longer longitudinal timeline. The greatest benefit of the split is that it provides the student the flexibility to customize a learning pathway based on personal and/or scholarly reasons. A student’s faculty research mentor can help assess which of these two options would be optimal.
Students should carefully consider their options before committing to splitting their curriculum. If you decide to split and are approved, you will not be able to change your mind. Although it is possible that exemptions could be made for extenuating circumstances, the logistics of reversing the decision to split after the quarter begins are extremely difficult.
Any medical student following completion of the first year can apply to split the curriculum. There are no additional requirements, but approval to split will be determined by the merit of the proposal/application. For the first year (2018-2019) we will be starting with a pilot cohort, and will limit the number of students splitting as we determine the interest level and work out any unanticipated logistics of splitting.
Yes, and in fact, splitting may have added benefits to MSTP students by increasing their flexibility in scheduling. For example, attending at a part-time pre-clinical class load will make it easier to work on a more rigorous project while minimizing the amount of class time missed.
Please contact us about the Discovery Curriculum if you have additional questions.