Frequently Asked Questions

What does Upstate Medical University hope to accomplish by changing its medical school curriculum?

Upstate wants to have a medical school that is innovative, rigorous, and a source of pride for our students and faculty. We want other medical schools and residency directors to think of us that way as well.

What changes in health care have prompted taking a look at how doctors are educated?

Doctors entering practice today face a changing landscape of healthcare, which includes:

  • More chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, obesity) that need to be managed holistically
  • Longer life expectancies, but not necessarily with a higher quality of life
  • Patients more frequently seen in outpatient care centers
  • Changes in reimbursement models
  • Innovations in hospitals (technology usage, proliferation of hospitalists)

What has changed in the skill sets of medical students that might warrant teaching today's students differently?

Today's students are "digital natives" who have grown up with the Internet, smart phones, e-mail, texting, laptops, tablets, YouTube, Twitter, Google, Facebook and other forms of high-speed communication and information gathering. We need to consider these changes and student learning styles when we approach teaching.

What is the LCME's position on adapting the medical education curricula?

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education — the accrediting authority for MD programs in the United States and Canada — acknowledges the rapidly changing environment of academic medicine and that to maintain accreditation and standing, schools will need to make changes in content, methods and assessments. The LCME states in part: "The curriculum of a medical education program must include content from the biomedical sciences that supports students' mastery of the contemporary scientific knowledge, concepts, and methods fundamental to acquiring and applying science to the health of individuals and populations and to the contemporary practice of medicine."

What curricular initiatives are being called for by professional associations and government-funded projects?

  • New educational assessment and evaluation methods
  • Earlier clinical experiences
  • New content areas including disease prevention, health promotion, systems based care, interdisciplinary teams and clinical and translational research
  • Need for curricular innovation to ensure relevance and fully integrate content across basic science and clinical years
  • Milestone projects (similar to the ACGME's outcomes-based evaluation process)

What might change at Upstate from the traditional medical school format?

Traditionally, medical school is two years of basic science followed by two years of clinical rotations. We want to add more early clinical experiences to bring relevance to learning and develop a curriculum that promotes greater integration of content across basic sciences and clinical years. We also believe that the fourth year of medical school should be a time for students to refine career choices and develop both general and specific skills that will prepare for the transition to residency and thereafter.

What were the sources for Curriculum Renewal?

  1. Cooke M, Irby DM, O'Brien BC. Educating Physicians: A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford, CA. 2010.
  2. Goldman E, Schroth WS. Perspective--Deconstructing Integration: A framework for the rational application of integration as a guiding curricular strategy. Acad Med. 2012; 87(6):729-734.
  3. Fink LD, Creating Significant Learning Experiences, John Wiley and Sons, San Francisco, CA, 2003.
  4. Skochelak SE. A decade of reports calling for change in medical education: what do they say? Acad Med. 2010; 85:S26-S33.
  5. Roberts DH, Newman LR, Schwatzstein RM. Twelve tips for facilitating Millennials' learning. Med Teach. 2012;34(4):274-8.
  6. Functions and Structure of a Medical School. Standards for Accreditation of Medical Education Programs. May 2012 version. Liaison Committee for Medical Education. Available at: www.lcme.org/functions.pdf
  7. Roberts KB, Raszka, WV. Preparing future pediatricians: Making time count. Pediatrics 2011;128: 827.


Jennifer Christner, MD
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

Welcome to the CURRICULUM RENEWAL TASK Force site about our efforts for curriculum renewal. Members of the task force developed a vision for our students as Fearless Learners™. Driving our new curriculum proposal is our understanding that learning is not just about studying what is known, but also about curiosity,discovering new ideas and challenging ourselves to do better.

To submit suggestions for review by the Curriculum Renewal Task Force for curriculum redesign, please send me an email. Thank you for your interest in our efforts!