Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

UP Curriculum

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

The goals of the new curriculum are to:

  1. Better prepare our students for lifelong and active learning in complex health care systems and communities.
  2. Increase integration of the basic and clinical sciences allowing students to apply science concepts throughout their education and increase comprehension and retention of medical knowledge.

What will happen to the courses in the current curriculum?

The organ-based units will become separate courses in the 2016-17 academic year for MS1s and in the 2017-18 academic year for MS2s. Each organ-based unit course will incorporate and integrate various disciplines such as anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, microbiology and pathology. One new course from 2015 for MS1s called Molecules, Cells and Microbes (MCM) will remain as will the Practice of Medicine Course. A new Case-Based Learning course (CBL) which will have small groups and problem-based learning, will begin in the 2016-17 year for MS1s and the 2017-18 year for MS2s.

How will decisions regarding curriculum content be made?

Content decisions are being made by Co-Directors of the Organ-Based Systems Units in consultation with Thread Leaders and leadership. Final versions of unit content will be discussed and approved by the Curriculum Committee in the Spring of 2016.

What is the role of the Thread Leaders?

A curricular thread is a subject element or theme that is spread throughout the curriculum. Basic science thread leaders will provide guidance on the range of curricular topics appropriate for their subject area in the MS1 and MS2 years and advise on specific instructors. Physiology is an example.

What is the Foundations of Reasoning in Medicine (FRM) course?

The Foundations course will utilize small groups to solve clinical cases aligned with subject areas.

What about the grading system?

Both longitudinal courses, the Foundations course and Practice of Medicine (POM), will assign a single grade to students at the end of the year, while each organ-based unit will be a separate course.

How will success of the new curriculum be evaluated?

Working closely with the Office of Evaluation, Assessment and Research, possible measurable outcomes for the curriculum include:

  • Increased collaboration between clinical and basic science faculty on curriculum content and delivery.
  • Increased percentage of exam questions with quality integrated content and clinical vignettes.
  • Increased comprehension of medical knowledge as measured by unit exams and standardized national exams (USMLE Step 1 & Step 2 Clinical Knowlledge).
  • Increased retention of medical knowledge content from the pre-clerkship curriculum during the clerkship years.
  • Increased students' perception of the clinical relevance of the basic science content taught in the pre-clerkship years and how well the training prepared them for clerkships.

How will physicians provide clinical relevance to the MS1 curriculum?

Physicians will bring clinical context and reasoning to the basic science concepts, provide real clinical cases for the Foundations Course, and share insight for “clinical vignette” questions.

What resources support curriculum changes?

The Curriculum Office has hired a new Director of the Phase 1 Curriculum who will support the Assistant Dean for the Founda-tional Sciences and others in coordinating curriculum change.

Will there be changes to the third and fourth year with the shortening of the MS2 year beginning in 2017-18?

There may be opportunities for intersessions or other ways return to foundational sciences in the new MS3 and MS4 curriculum. Plans are underway that will continue to integrate the medical curriculum across all four years.