Prevalence of block systems vs. traditional classes

D

da8s0859q

My particular school is migrating to a phase/block system, so instead of having anatomy as a course, biochem as a course, etc., it's all going to be broken down into blocks. Unsure exactly how this is going to go, since it's just around the corner.

I'm just wondering how common this is through the US allo schools. I know it's nothing revolutionary, but I was just wondering the other day how often residencies see transcripts with block grades -- "A" in block 1, etc. -- instead of in any traditional class.
 

dilated

Fought Law; Law Won
10+ Year Member
Nov 4, 2004
1,023
11
NC
Status
Blocks are so much better than subjects it's unreal. You only have one thing to worry about at a time. So much less stressful. There's no comparison.
 

OPPforlife

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 18, 2009
226
18
Clemson SC
Status
Medical Student
Blocks are so much better than subjects it's unreal. You only have one thing to worry about at a time. So much less stressful. There's no comparison.
dude seriously? could you expand on this a little more maybe and explain exactly what are some of the reasons why the block system is better? I am really not trying to be an A-hole...just want to know why one is better since I am still only a M-0.
 

mq123

Blah username =/= blah me
10+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2007
294
1
BuyMoria
Status
Medical Student
dude seriously? could you expand on this a little more maybe and explain exactly what are some of the reasons why the block system is better? I am really not trying to be an A-hole...just want to know why one is better since I am still only a M-0.
In a systems-based curriculum, like mine, we have blocks. Each block will have, for instance, Anatomy, Physiology, Histology, etc pertaning to one 'system' (renal, GI, etc). So, when we did respiratory physio in one block, we were concurrently doing lung histolgy and thorax/lung disection. The block didn't always perfectly line up, of course (so in a 3-week block of renal physio, we were done with kidney disection in 2 labs), but the course directors made the best effort to do so.

However, I agree with the above poster-- systems based is sooo much easier in terms of integration across basic sciences, and things make much more sense. Instead of having to remember anatomy from last year/semester, you just did it that week in that block. Exams are also much, much better, and it enforces learning of concepts across disciplines.

Hope this helps!
 

coffeebeanjenn

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 15, 2008
280
15
Status
Resident [Any Field]
The University of Kansas SOM is on the block/systems schedule. I'm a MS-1 and we start on Monday, so I can't really attest to its awesomeness yet. But they tell us all the good things that are already in this post. And apparently the average board score went up when they switched to this system.
 

OPPforlife

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 18, 2009
226
18
Clemson SC
Status
Medical Student
well this is truly exciting! (or maybe I'm just being a nerd). I will be attending the Medical University of South Carolina in August. They just informed us that we will be the first class to go through a systems based curriculum. I actually feel good about going through this class work now because I have always been more of a concepts kind of a person and less of the memorization type.

coffeebeanjenn:
" And apparently the average board score went up when they switched to this system."

Do you think this is because the step 1 is kind of systems based? i.e. each question has multiple parts, that probably address anatomy, histology, biochem, physilogy etc. simultaneously?
 

BigRedBeta

Why am I in a handbasket?
10+ Year Member
Nov 1, 2007
1,419
815
Status
Attending Physician
There's systems based like KU, but to temper the "boards scores went up" excitement, it should be noted that the University of Arizona switched to a systems based method the same year as KU and their failure rate on Step 1 jumped alot (possibly tripled?). There were something like 15 people who failed (I was a 4th year from another school doing an away in Tucson at the time so I only heard rumblings in the halls, not anything direct).

Other schools, like Nebraska, do subject cores - so first year you have 10 weeks of Anatomy/Embryology, then 6 weeks of "cell processes" which combines genetics, cell bio, and biochem, then 10 weeks of Physiology, and then 6 weeks of neuroscience/neuroanatomy.

There are benefits to both setups, just like there's a benefit to having a more traditional curriculum. Things like integration and retention will always be issues in any system, and often - just like in college - it's really the professor more than the system that makes a real difference.
 

MossPoh

Textures intrigue me
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 24, 2006
7,990
43
Tally/Willkillya County
psu.facebook.com
Status
Medical Student
There's systems based like KU, but to temper the "boards scores went up" excitement, it should be noted that the University of Arizona switched to a systems based method the same year as KU and their failure rate on Step 1 jumped alot (possibly tripled?). There were something like 15 people who failed (I was a 4th year from another school doing an away in Tucson at the time so I only heard rumblings in the halls, not anything direct).

Other schools, like Nebraska, do subject cores - so first year you have 10 weeks of Anatomy/Embryology, then 6 weeks of "cell processes" which combines genetics, cell bio, and biochem, then 10 weeks of Physiology, and then 6 weeks of neuroscience/neuroanatomy.

There are benefits to both setups, just like there's a benefit to having a more traditional curriculum. Things like integration and retention will always be issues in any system, and often - just like in college - it's really the professor more than the system that makes a real difference.
We do a similar thing. First year is spread out 10 weeks longer too. We start in the summer and do a 10 week anatomy/embryology/doctoring course. Then fall we start with neuroanatomy/microanatomy/doctoring and all that. Spring it picks up a bit more. Then the second year you do essentially a full run through of each subject area and then hit into a systems based. So, you basically cover the most important stuff multiple times. I've heard it is a bit of an asswhip, but it does help in the end. I personally like the idea of integrating ideas and concepts. It is much more difficult from a curriculum design standpoint though.
 

njbmd

Guest
Moderator Emeritus
5+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
May 30, 2001
9,050
145
Gone Walkabout!
Visit site
Status
Attending Physician
The University of Kansas SOM is on the block/systems schedule. I'm a MS-1 and we start on Monday, so I can't really attest to its awesomeness yet. But they tell us all the good things that are already in this post. And apparently the average board score went up when they switched to this system.
There are too many variables to point to one curriculum type as being solely responsible for the increase in Step I scores. Board prep is very much an individual matter and board scores are more characeristic of the individual and less about what the school does or does not do.

Did the students study more? Did more use a commercial prep site/course? Did the lecturer's change? Did the content change? Did the number of hours of instruction change?

Why do I say this? The person who graduated number one in our class this year wasn't even close to having the highest Step I score. He did well but there were 10 people who scored higher. In fact, the person with the highest Step I score, was solidly in the middle of the class and prepped using a commercial course. Don't get too hung up on curriculum but master the material taught and make sure that you prepare yourself for boards.