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Tuesday, February 28 • 11:00am - 11:45am
SUNDANCE - [Oral Presentation] 1. Applying lessons from the MD curriculum to the 1st-year PhD Bioscience curriculum at the University of Utah

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11:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Applying lessons from the MD curriculum to the 1st-year PhD Bioscience curriculum at the University of Utah

M. Kay, University of Utah
Abstract Body: Context: Over the past seven years, the foundational science curriculum for medical students at the University of Utah (UU) has evolved to become more integrated, with a focus on developing the competencies of knowledge application, teamwork and self-directed learning. By contrast, the Bioscience PhD Programs in Molecular Biology and Biological Chemistry, 1st-year umbrella programs that serve multiple departments in the School of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, and College of Science, continued to have a discipline-based, lecture-heavy curriculum. However, it became apparent that many of our graduate students were not being adequately prepared to succeed on their oral preliminary exams, to be competitive for NIH and NSF training grants, and to graduate within about 6 years. Objectives: 1. Develop a new PhD curriculum that is more focused on critical evaluation of primary research literature, problem solving, hypothesis generation, and small-group learning. 2. Create new courses in critical thinking and literature review, as well as guided research proposal preparation. 3. Utilize active small group learning with faculty and senior graduate student facilitators modeled on successful case-based learning techniques pioneered in the MD curriculum. 4. Provide more time for the new courses by condensing the foundational curriculum and encouraging course leaders to introduce more active learning into their lecture-based courses. 5. Implement an end-of-year capstone exam in which students present and defend the original research proposal produced in class to an independent faculty panel not involved in the courses. For most departments, this capstone exam will replace the previous preliminary exam on a topic unrelated to their thesis taken in the second or third year. Key message: Actively involving foundational science researchers in the medical student curriculum can have unexpected benefits. Science faculty who have participated as case-based learning facilitators with medical students and witnessed the benefits of peer-teaching are more likely to support the adoption of student-centered, active learning strategies. The capstone exam was beta-tested last year as a non-binding exam, and the results helped to refine our strategy for this year's official launch. Conclusion: The UU Bioscience PhD program has just undergone a significant curriculum revision designed to help students achieve the competencies expected of independent scientists. Current efforts are focused on evaluating the effectiveness of these changes, providing support to instructors, and mentoring a new generation of faculty to make the new curriculum self sustaining. The medical school curriculum revisions helped inspire these changes. How might the strengths of PhD programs be used to improve medical education? 

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Tuesday February 28, 2017 11:00am - 11:45am
SUNDANCE

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