Curricular Innovations

Curriculum renewal

What is the College of Medicine’s Illinois Medicine Curriculum and why is it important?

Like many medical schools throughout the United States, the College of Medicine has made changes in the way our medical students are taught. More than ever, physicians in training must learn how to be effective members of interdisciplinary clinical teams, how to search for up-to-date, credible, professional sources of medical information, and how to navigate the changing landscape of healthcare delivery.

In preparing students for their core clerkships, the new curriculum:

  • makes powerful connections between the fundamentals of scientific knowledge and the decision-making of patient care
  • ensures plenty of skills practice including patient interviewing, clinical reasoning, forming differential diagnoses, and choosing among treatment options
  • teaches the problem-solving skills and study skills that prepare students for standardized exams and that support the life-long professional skill of medical inquiry
  • engages students and faculty in a continuous dialog about developing a professional identity and voice, gaining perspective on patients’ micro and macro barriers to receiving care, and placing medical treatment in the context of health of individuals, families, and communities

How are these innovations happening at the College of Medicine?

We are fortunate to have students, faculty and administrative leaders who began working together to address the need for curricular innovation starting in 2014. Department chairs, medical education scholars, basic scientists, instructional designers, experts in simulation, program evaluation, assessment, and data analysis have worked together with deans, teaching faculty, and student representatives across the campuses.

The College convened large-scale intensive meetings of administrative leaders, faculty, staff and students and systematically identified the key features of the new curriculum, the principles of our curriculum development, and the types of teams necessary to design, implement and evaluate the proposed new curriculum.

We agreed that our medical school must:

  • integrate teaching of basic sciences with clinical applications
  • allow time for students to structure their own learning
  • introduce and then revisit concepts in a deliberate fashion called “spiral curriculum”
  • emphasize active learning wherever appropriate
  • have case-based learning as its core
  • have expanded opportunities for career exploration

Meet the leaders who continue to enhance our curriculum:

Theme teams

Teams of faculty teach perspectives that are essential to becoming a physician:

  • Health, Illness, and Society (HIS): understanding the social contexts that affect your patients’ care;
  • Health Care Systems (HCS): understanding the complexities of delivering care in in-patient and out-patient settings;
  • Professional Development (PD): understanding and influencing the development of your professional identity and your career while prioritizing your wellness;
  • Foundational knowledge and clinical practice: recognizing what you need to master at each phase of your education.

Phase 1 Course Directors 
Student Curricular Board representatives in Rockford, Peoria, and Chicago

Chicago Medical Student newsletter

Chicago Medical Student Council (CMSC) Medical Messenger Newsletter Issues

What is next?

Phase 1 (pre-clerkship)

Teams of faculty across our College continue to refine case-based learning. They use a range of assessment methods as well as feedback from students to examine the effectiveness of our Phase 1 curriculum with the goal of ensuring that our students are ready for Step 1 success and ready for excelling in the challenging clinical environments of clerkships.

Phases 2 and 3 (clerkships and beyond)

Directors of clerkships, electives, and sub-internships share best practices from their respective campuses. Maximizing our students’ learning from clinical experiences and providing a wide range of options for exploring interests in specialties is the focus of cross-campus teams of clinical faculty.

Technology-based innovations:

Mobile tool for direct observation and feedback on clinical skills

Students appreciate and seek out high-quality feedback on their clinical skills. A simple method for capturing narrative feedback was developed by the College of Medicine’s Medical Education Data Group that is seamlessly integrated with the College’s proprietary medical education database. Students or their supervisors can text or use a phone’s dictation function to quickly receive and document useful formative feedback from clinical supervisors. The tool, called “On the Fly” allows students to review their progress over time and to transform information they receive into an increased ability to self-assess and plan their path toward clinical skills mastery.

Osmosis adaptive learning system

All students in the College of Medicine have a study tool, Osmosis, provided to them. This adaptive learning system integrates topics presented by the College’s faculty with a powerful set of learning tools, resulting in increased retention of foundational medical knowledge. Students can review clear, concise videos, build or import digital flashcards and quiz questions, and have content pushed to their phones as part of a structured, highly individualized study plan for specific segments of the curriculum, for final exams, or for the Step 1 exam.