Message from the Dean:
Medical Education Committee has been hard at work developing a new "integrated"
curriculum that focuses on teaching the basic sciences and is organized around
organ systems rather than the traditional disciplines of anatomy, physiology,
pathology, and so on. Many of the top medical schools in the country, including
Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California
at San Francisco, Yale, UCLA, the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford have
introduced or will soon be adopting similar curriculum revisions.
The objective of this new
curriculum is for students to learn basic sciences in a more clinically relevant
context-teaching them to think comprehensively about organ function and diseases
rather than simply memorize mountains of facts. Organ-based modules will be
co-directed by basic scientists and clinicians. The number of lectures will
decrease, to be replaced by more time spent in problem-solving small-group discussions.
Although this approach will be more demanding of faculty time, we believe it
will be a good investment.
Another notable change was
introduced this fall. After much debate and with thoughtful arguments on both
sides, we have replaced the previous grading system with something far simpler:
Pass/Fail. In an effort to emphasize learning over grades, traditional letter
grades disappeared several years ago. Letter grades were replaced by a system
identifying students' performance by "quartile" within the class.
But the quartile system was also thought by many students to increase competitiveness
with classmates, where training for successful medical practice more appropriately
rewards working effectively with colleagues. However, specific records of performance
on examinations and in clinical clerkships will still be kept in the Registrar's
Office to allow identification of outstanding students for such purposes as
AOA election, graduation honors and resident applications.
We intend that the education
provided in our school of medicine is comparable in quality to that available
anywhere in the country. Our faculty members believe that these changes in evaluation
and curriculum will continue to assure that outcome.
Robert R. Rich, MD
Senior Vice President, University of Alabama at Birmingham
and Dean, School of Medicine