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UCSF's New Curriculum: A better way to learn?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Universal Coverage, Apr 24, 2002.

  1. Universal Coverage

    Universal Coverage Junior Member
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    Curriculums that are still very traditional and lecture based still make great doctors of course, like at Stanford and Columbia. But I see the trend now is towards more interdisciplinary learning, organ systems, case based learning, less class time, more early patient contact, etc. If you are at UCSF, do you feel your new curriculum is a slightly better way to learn medicine? By better I mean more efficient and effective? Do you retain information better? Are you more inspired by seeing clinical applications? Do you learn less useless details? You still work really hard, but does the new curriculum in essence make medical school easier --less stress and study time than at more traditional schools because it's more efficient and you can focus more on the big picture, less on excessive detail? What are the cons of less class time and getting out of class by 12:00? Do you just have to learn more of the material on your own? How often do you have midterms or do you just have a final? Do you think that's a good exam policy?
     
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  3. Universal Coverage

    Universal Coverage Junior Member
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  4. Universal Coverage

    Universal Coverage Junior Member
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  5. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    These are some excellent questions and as a current UCSF MSTP student I want to respond to them. However, I'm in the midst of studying for a Cell Bio midterm and have about umpteen papers to read. So I'll have to wait until the fun is over to reply... :D
     
  6. coop

    coop Senior Member
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    I'll let vader tackle the specifics, but the input I would like to add is that it's certainly a better way for SOME. people learn differently, try to figure out from your past experiences how you best learn different types of material. I think pbl systems are best for some, lectures are best for some, and a mixture is best for some.
     
  7. Universal Coverage

    Universal Coverage Junior Member
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    Thanks Vader. Good luck with your exam! :)
     
  8. BeckyG

    BeckyG Senior Member
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    Ok, I'll take this one for Vader and then he can add info later. As someone else mentioned, it is highly individualized as to what "works" for each person. The lectures and labs are optional - some people never go. The small groups and PBL sessions are mandatory, so everyone goes to those. I think it is possible to get something out of each teaching "modality," but there are people who definitely prefer one method over others. The point of having so many different ways to learn is to reinforce the material and to make sure everyone gets at least one method of learning that is optimal for them. Also, our syllabus sections usually are very complete and everything we are tested on must be in the syllabus (policy of the school), so you can miss lecture and be OK (again, for some people).

    On the whole, I think it is a great system - but you definitely have to be more disciplined (which for me can be a problem). I end up going hiking, going to the gym or the park, hanging out with friends, etc probably more hours per week than I am in class (which is approx. 20 hrs). This means that I play around a lot at the beginning of a block and then cram the week before the exam (though I do go to most lectures, labs, etc., prepare for the small groups and read prior to lecture). We have exams approximately every three weeks (though it can be shorter - 2 weeks - or longer - approx. 4 weeks). The biggest con to me of getting out at noon is that we have to be there at 8AM and I'm not a morning person.

    As for the grading policy, pass is 70% (unless the class does worse, in which case they lower the passing grade). As we are on a block schedule, we usually have exams approx every three weeks. So, for a 6 week block (e.g., cardiovascular) we had a midterm and a final. For the cancer block (8 weeks), we had three exams. They are NOT cumulative. If you do not pass an exam, you take it again at the end of the year. There's basically nothing bad that is going to happen if you fail one exam. If you fail a few, they will talk to you and you'll probably be on academic probation. But, I have not heard of this happening this year and it's really not something to worry about because there is so much support (teaching and otherwise) for students.

    As for the clinical relevance - yes it makes a huge difference. Being able to put things in the context of what a patient will present with, what the path looks like, how you treat it (pharm), etc. is very interesting and exciting. Further, our clinical interlude prior to winter break and our preceptorships are ways to see what clinical medicine is like, why what you are learning is relevant and how it will make a difference in the future.

    Regarding whether we are learning more efficiently, I don't have anything to compare my experiences to. In retrospect, even though it was tough to learn anatomy in 6 weeks, I am glad that we did not spend more time on it. There is so much busy work involved in dissection that truly is not that productive - we were able to learn other things in those hours.

    Is the curriculum more clinically relevant - yeah, it is. However, you still need to learn the basic sciences, so you will tackle biochem, cell bio, genetics, etc., as you work toward understanding disease processes. So, in many cases, you learn the physiology, chemistry, etc., first and then learn the clinical signs/symptoms/presentations later in a block. It all comes together nicely at the end. Whether we retain more this way or not, I have no idea. For me, I have to learn things repetitively (i.e., see it more than once) to really start to understand it. That's the whole point of having the basic sciences and then clinical rotations -- see the information presented at a more cognitive level in classes and then a more practical and emotional level on the wards.

    I'm sure there is more you'd like to know, so feel free to email or PM me. I hope this was helpful! Good luck,

    Becky
     
  9. DarksideAllstar

    DarksideAllstar you can pay me in bud
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    I can only speak from what others have told me but...
    I currently live with a 1st year MD student and next door to two 1st year MSTPers. The guy that I live with said that he felt they glossed over some of the basic science info. An example that he gave me was, "They just mentioned cyclic AMP. They didn't really say what it was or what it did. I feel sorry for the people who hadn't had biochem or cell bio yet." This was at the beginning of the year in reference to a lecture at the time.
    However it seems as though the curriculum will set you up nicely for 2nd year and beyond, as they do some path and really incorporate alot of clinical info.
    One of the MSTPers that I know had a hard time finding his groove, and still does I think. Vader probably knows him. (M.B) The other MSTPer kicks ass on every test.
    The thing that I found that I would like most about this system is the afternoons that you have to do whatever. I usually come home to find my roommate sleeping or on a long bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. Kinda sucks for me because next year I will be in a lecture-based curriculum that occupies most of the day. Anyhow, all the info I have is from listening to my roommate complain, so feel free to make any corrections. Peace.
     
  10. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Well my exam's over and BeckyG beat me to the punch. :) I completely agree with what she said regarding the curriculum.

    One disadvantage of less class time is that there are fewer opportunities to ask questions during lecture. The upswing is that you have those opportunities during small group, labs, or by using the online discussion board. The lectures tend to be more bottom-line oriented (as opposed to showing data and allowing us to draw conclusions) and some feel fairly rushed or time-constrained. This curriculum dictates that you be quite disciplined because you have to prepare cases and answers to problem sets for small groups. What you get out is really dependent upon what you put in.

    Another potential thing that you should be aware of: in the new curriculum, we learn both normal and disease processes during the same block. Therefore, we get all the information just once in a large-dose, rather than smaller ones spread throughout separate classes during the two years on a traditional curriculum. I have already seen that it is easier to forget things this way, as repetition is important. On the other hand, we will have a final block next year called "Clinical Consolidation" during which we will go over cases and the relevant basic sciences in order to put together all the different systems.

    With these caveats in mind, I think the new curriculum offers considerable advantages over the old one. First, the material of different disciplines is integrated, more directly clinically relevant, and presented in a more interesting way. Second, PBL promotes clinical reasoning and problem-solving skills. Third, different learning modalities enable students to manipulate information in different ways, which enhances learning. Fourth, I think we will be more prepared for the clinical clerkships, which now start earlier (in exactly one year for us). We have many early clinical experiences (interlude, preceptorships, FPC, etc) and are being exposed to clinical faculty/attending/fellows quite early on. Finally, the extensive amount of free time offered in the new curriculum enables students to study what they need and get involved with a variety of activities or just chill when needed. :cool:
     
  11. Becky and Vader...u two never cease to amaze me :p

    the amount of time you guys spend in describing the terrific aspects of ur school is astounding...

    to be honest, I don't even think UCSF needs any cheerleaders? <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> but its great to see students care so much about others as well as their own school...

    I interviewed there, and absolutely fell in love with the school and the environment :D

    I bow down to both of u :) the UCSF gods :p
     
  12. Street Philosopher

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    One question I still wonder about that was mentioned in the first post is:

    Does getting out at 12 mean you just have to do more work outside of class?
     
  13. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Watcha,
    You're the one who is almost an SDN GRAND MEMBER. :p

    Anyway, it's all about selfish motives anyway... Becky and I really inhabit this forum to turn all of the premedical applicants over to the Dark Side... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by WatchaMaCallit:
    <strong>Becky and Vader...u two never cease to amaze me :p

    the amount of time you guys spend in describing the terrific aspects of ur school is astounding...

    to be honest, I don't even think UCSF needs any cheerleaders? <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> but its great to see students care so much about others as well as their own school...

    I interviewed there, and absolutely fell in love with the school and the environment :D

    I bow down to both of u :) the UCSF gods :p </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
     
  14. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Post Count +1:
    <strong>One question I still wonder about that was mentioned in the first post is:

    Does getting out at 12 mean you just have to do more work outside of class?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Not necessarily. Getting out at 12 often means going down to Ocean Beach or for a walk in Golden Gate Park. Or napping. Or graduate classes (in my case). Or whatever else you want to do, which may or may not include studying. :D
     
  15. </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Vader:
    <strong>Watcha,
    You're the one who is almost an SDN GRAND MEMBER. :p

    Anyway, it's all about selfish motives anyway... Becky and I really inhabit this forum to turn all of the premedical applicants over to the Dark Side... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by WatchaMaCallit:
    <strong>Becky and Vader...u two never cease to amaze me :p

    the amount of time you guys spend in describing the terrific aspects of ur school is astounding...

    to be honest, I don't even think UCSF needs any cheerleaders? <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> but its great to see students care so much about others as well as their own school...

    I interviewed there, and absolutely fell in love with the school and the environment :D

    I bow down to both of u :) the UCSF gods :p </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"></strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">hehe...using concepts from the "altruism thread", it's really good that you try to persuade pple to UCSF...I absolutely loved it when I was there...heaven on earth....

    keep up the good work u guys...it's pple like u, Becky, Michelle, and Josh, that shine and make this hard field into something wonderful!!!

    bset of luck to all of u!!! :)
     
  16. lady in red

    lady in red Senior Member
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    OF COURSE IT IS A BETTER WAY TO LEARN!!!!
    If you ever had to suffer for something (like having to dig stuff up yourself for a small group study)--damn right you will remember for the rest of your life!!!! Plain and simple, no fancy explanations. Also, the key word is "interaction"--be it with your classmates, the patient simulators, lab stuff or whatever. It is not boring, and thats what counts.
    Plus, if you are committed to medicine, you should expect to do a fair amount of self-education. And I think the sooner one realizes this, the better. There are many clinicians who are great doctors, but lousy teachers (some do teaching as a volunteer thing on the side, some just don't care), so you can't expect a teaching expertise from ever instructor that you meet. This is true for any med school. Hence, I think schools like UCSF are doing a great service to students by letting them take education in their own hands and start being independent. In reality, we will be teaching ourselves through residency, and while in practice. Now is the best time to get used to it.
    Sorry for the long message.
     
  17. mwilson

    mwilson treo
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    Aside from the exact details of the new curriculum, it's kind of cool that it's new and reinvigorated. Whether you have one hour less of lecture here or a little more PBL there, it's just neat that the school has taken the time (3-5 years) to think about how they are teaching things. I would expect that this will manifest itself in the enthusiasm of the educators there, and at the end of the day, that's much more important to me than the structural differences.
     
  18. BeckyG

    BeckyG Senior Member
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    Hi UCSFreak - one thing, you may want to delete the initials of that MSTPer in your post, as the members of MSTP group are small and I knew exactly who you were talking about instantly. Just a thought.

    -- Becky
     

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