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Medical School curriculum emphasizes practical skills
September 7, 1998

Far-reaching changes to the four-year curriculum at the University's School of Medicine will give students critical skills to practice medicine in the next millennium, and provide the highest quality care in the most cost -effective manner.

The new curriculum was introduced in 1995. This year's graduating class (the class of 1999) will be the first group of medical students to complete four years of the new curriculum. This means students will graduate with increased experience in clinical settings, as well as highly tuned problem-solving skills.

"We want to make sure our graduates are adequately prepared to practice medicine in the year 2010 - and beyond," explained Bruce M. Koeppen, M.D., dean for academic affairs and education at the School of Medicine, who oversaw the implementation of the new curriculum.

Koeppen was recently honored by the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and the American Association of Medical Colleges for his leadership in coordinating the curriculum changes. Since the changes have been enacted, UConn students have consistently scored higher on national licensing exams and other measures.

Here's a look at some of the major changes included in the new curriculum:

  • Integration of basic sciences and clinical experiences: Under the previous model, medical students spent their first two years in lecture halls and their third and fourth years in clinical settings. Under the new model, clinical experience starts in the first month of the first year of medical school and continues for four years. Basic science courses, meanwhile, are revisited in the fourth year.

  • New emphasis on problem-solving skills: Because changes in healthcare demand physicians to look at problems in innovative ways, the new curriculum places a strong emphasis on problem-solving sessions with clinical preceptors.

  • Making clinical experience more reflective of the way healthcare is delivered: Under the new curriculum, students spend more time in ambulatory and outpatient settings. Also, students are matched with community physicians whom they follow and work with for three years. This provides students a practical perspective on the natural history of diseases and the important role of primary care providers.

Complementing these changes has been a series of renovations to the medical school facilities and classrooms.

"The new curriculum has been acknowledged as one of the most innovative in the country and places us among the best teaching institutions in the nation," says Leslie S. Cutler, D.D.S., chancellor of the Health Center.

Maureen McGuir.

Maureen McGuire works in the Office of Communications at the Health Center.