Curricular Innovations

Curriculum renewal process:

What is new about UI COM’s curriculum and why is it important?

Like many medical schools throughout the United States, UI COM is making 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 is UI COM making this curriculum renewal happen?

We are fortunate to have students, faculty and administrative leaders who began addressing the need for curricular change several years ago. UI COM’s Dean Azar has rallied department chairs, medical education scholars, basic scientists, instructional designers, experts in simulation, program evaluation, assessment, and data analysis, together with deans and teaching faculty across the campuses.

UI COM convened several large-scale meetings of administrative leaders, faculty, staff and students to systematically identify 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 the new curriculum 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 cross-campus curriculum renewal teams here:

Theme teams
Block and longitudinal course directors 
Student Curricular Board representatives in Rockford, Peoria, and Chicago

Chicago Medical Student newsletter

Chicago Medical Student Council (CMSC) Medical Messenger, August

What is next?

Phase 1 (pre-clerkship)

Teams of faculty across our College will continue to meet to develop case-based learning and to finalize assessment methods and program evaluation for Phase 1 (pre-clerkship).

Phases 2 and 3 (clerkships and beyond)

With pre-clerkship curriculum development well under way, we will be focused on clinical experiences in clerkships next. We recently held our first large-scale meeting to plan improvements to the student experience of clerkships and to examine various structural options for clerkships.

Other curricular innovations in progress:

On the Fly mobile tool for direct observation and feedback on clinical skills.

At several of our campuses, a new method of providing narrative feedback to medical students during their core clerkships is currently being piloted. The tool, called “On The Fly” is also known as the Mobile Direct Observation of Clinical Skills tool (M*DOCS). Developed at UI COM, the tool enables students to receive and document feedback from their supervisors about key clinical skills. On The Fly uses the dictation function of cellphones to capture formative feedback in a simple and efficient way.

On The Fly was designed to function with our proprietary medical education database, BenWare, so that students will be able to review their feedback from a variety of attending physicians and residents over time. Based on feedback, students can document their plans for additional practice toward mastery of clinical skills.

Osmosis adaptive learning system

All students entering UI COM in 2017 will have a study tool, Osmosis, for the entirety of their time as undergraduates. This adaptive learning system will be provided at no cost to medical students and will coordinate with the sequence of topics in the new curriculum. Students can build digital flashcards and quiz questions, make them private or share them, and have content pushed to their phones as one part of studying for final exams or the Step 1 exam.