Tekbright510

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Hey guys,

Could someone please explain the major types of curricula that are used in medical schools? I am confused/not really clear on the differences.

For example, I have heard some schools say they use "Block Scheduling" where they only have one science class at a time. This as opposed to what? Integrated curriculum? Then, what is traditional curriculum?

If anyone has had any positive or negative experiences with any particular curriculum, I'd love to hear as well.

Thanks,
Tek
 

datdood

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Bump.
Also if somone could expound on PBL? vrs other types as well? Thank you
 

Phildobaggins

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Also, if anybody knows of any website or something that lists each school's curriculum, including if they are P/F or straight grades would be nice.
 
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URHere

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There are as many types of medical school curriculums as there are medical schools, but there are a few basic categories:

Block Scheduling: Yes, this means that one class is covered at a time, but there is more than one type of block scheduling. Some are "system-based" curriculums where you take classes that are divided up by organ system. For example, at a systems-based school, your one class in September may cover circulation/blood, the brain, or the reproductive system. That class would include all of the anatomy, cellular physiology, pharmacology, etc that you need to understand the organ system.

Other schools still use block scheduling, but divide by type of material rather than organ system. At these schools, you would have separate classes exclusively devoted to things like anatomy, histology, pharmacology, etc. During a pharmacology class, for example, you would cover the pharmacology of ALL organ systems.

Whether these block courses are integrated really depends on your definition of integrated. For example, the first type is integrated with respect to organ system - and this is what most people mean when they talk about an integrated curriculum.

Non-Block Scheduling: Some people refer to this as the traditional curriculum. These schools teach multiple classes simultaneously - students may be taking gross anatomy, biochemistry, and histology all at the same time. However, this can be deceptive because some block courses can cover the material of multiple classes as well but collapse it into one class (for example, at my school one of the block courses covers gross anatomy, embryology, and imaging at the same time).

PBL: Problem-Based Learning is one type of small group learning system that some schools use. During PBL sessions, students are usually presented with some case that they then discuss/diagnose/analyze. The idea behind PBL is that small groups of students have the chance to directly apply what they are learning. PBL is usually used in addition to lecture.

Non-PBL Small Groups: Many schools use small groups for things other than problem-based learning. One major example is physical exam class where students are divided into small groups to practice. Schools may also use small groups as journal clubs where students discuss papers.

Clinical courses: These courses are usually not counted as part of the general "block" or "traditional" curriculum. Some schools provide lectures on topics in medicine such as public health, sensitive patient issues (abuse, drug use, etc), and some don't. These courses may include a clinic component where MS1 and MS2 students go and work in a hospital or clinic a few times each week or month. This is usually what schools are talking about if they mention early clinical exposure.

In general, schools mix and match from the components I have listed above. Some may even use a "non-systems" approach for MS1 year and a "systems" approach for MS2 year. Each school does things its own way, but hopefully this helped!
 

Textuality

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Another difference in curriculum that you may want to consider is that some schools only have 1.5 years of basic science instead of 2 (Duke and Penn are the only ones I can think of, but there are probably others)

To be honest, when I was interviewing at schools, it did kind of feel like every school had it's own unique curriculum, so while they may be very general types, I don't know if that will be as helpful as one might think? Also, for me it was a bigger deal to know whether attendance to lecture was mandatory and if they recorded the lectures for online access :)
 

Retsage

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Duke only has one year of basic science. It just lasts for 11 months.
 

Tekbright510

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Thank you very much URHere. That was very helpful.

Individual preferences aside, which type of curriculum is generally favored more by med students - some form of block or traditional?
 

rkaz

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Thanks for the great posts, URHere and Textuality... it's great having input from current med students. :)
 

Retsage

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Thank you very much URHere. That was very helpful.

Individual preferences aside, which type of curriculum is generally favored more by med students - some form of block or traditional?

From what I've gathered through my interviews, students don't really care.
 

Jolie South

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Another difference in curriculum that you may want to consider is that some schools only have 1.5 years of basic science instead of 2 (Duke and Penn are the only ones I can think of, but there are probably others)

To be honest, when I was interviewing at schools, it did kind of feel like every school had it's own unique curriculum, so while they may be very general types, I don't know if that will be as helpful as one might think? Also, for me it was a bigger deal to know whether attendance to lecture was mandatory and if they recorded the lectures for online access :)
Baylor does as well.
 

Jolie South

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From what I've gathered through my interviews, students don't really care.
I definitely am glad that I went to a school with block scheduling. We cover a system per block and have one test over everything at the end. This means that we're not studying a bunch of unrelated stuff and taking like 12 tests every 6 weeks.

I have friends at a traditional school across the street and hear them talk about their tests. I don't envy them.
 

Retsage

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No offense, but when you commit a small fortune and the next four years of your life to a school, you're going to defend most of its choices. If you went to a school using a different system, you'd swear by it too. :p
 
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Jolie South

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No offense, but when you commit a small fortune and the next four years of your life to a school, you're going to defend most of its choices. If you went to a school using a different system, you'd swear by it too. :p
No, I really don't think so.

I've experienced that system with the piecemeal finals and whatnot in undergrad and grad school. I can't imagine having that every six weeks with the amount of material multiplied by 10.

Thus far, we learn about a system at a time in most possible aspects: histology, anatomy, clinical exams, physio. It reinforces the content and helps integrate the material.
 

FrickenhugeMD

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The school I'm at uses a block style of scheduling, but uses traditional curriculum. With this we do "blocks" of classes, like we just got done with anatomy and histo/embyo. We had two classes but just did them from start to finish. Now we are about a 1/3 of the way through physio and biochem and I can;t really complain about how the scheduling is. We get 3 weeks of class and one week of a lighter schedule to study for the exams that usually fall on fridays. I personally find this works for me and I'm glad I dont have to sit around in small groups talking about a case that someone got their information for from wikipedia.

To each their own though
 

ButImLETired

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Ok, to summarize the "unusual" curricula so far (adding Emory, too):

Penn, Baylor, and Emory: 1.5 years of science, clinicals start earlier, I'm assuming there's a research project in there somewhere for Baylor and Penn, I know there's one for Emory.

Duke: 10 months of science, followed by 2nd year of clinicals, third year is a research year (or you can get a dual degree).

Hope this helps!
 
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