Three pivot points are notable in the medical student’s path to becoming a physician: learning basic sciences and managing the volume of information in the curriculum, adjusting to the demands and pace of the clinical environment, and assuring the achievement of core competency necessary to become a resident after graduation.
At Indiana University School of Medicine, our transitions curriculum helps students navigate these important milestones seamlessly and with confidence, with courses delivered prior to each of these developmental steps.
In addition to the transition programs, IU School of Medicine prepares graduates for their role as residents. For example, residency programs increasingly expect graduates to arrive with an understanding of how to work in a critical-care setting. It’s why the School of Medicine is having students spend four weeks in a critical care unit that aligns with their desired specialty.
During that time, they not only learn the technical issues of ventilator management and fluid resuscitation, but they also learn how to communicate with families about end-of-life care. Simultaneously, students are re-engaging the basic science underpinnings of the complex critical care medical problems being seen during these clinical experiences.
We know that, as much as we try to prepare medical students to thrive in clinical settings, we cannot completely insulate them from the stress that comes with it. We also know that burnout is real and impacts every physician, even those with decades of experience. One new program developed to assist students in learning how to manage that stress—and utilize strategies for self-care over a lifetime of clinical practice—is a new elective in Mind-Body medicine.
IU School of Medicine implements a single core curriculum across all nine of its campuses. Yet, we have developed a new program called “scholarly concentrations” that draws upon the unique strengths of each campus. Unveiled last year, each scholarly concentration combines core didactic content with a student-led academic project leading to the preparation of a manuscript for publication.
For example, a student at IU School of Medicine Northwest—Gary, with a scholarly concentration in Urban Health/Health Disparities, could explore barriers that prevent underserved communities from accessing care. A student at the Terre Haute campus, with a scholarly concentration in rural health, would study the impact of limited access to care for rural communities.
At the same time, the School of Medicine is steadily integrating emerging technologies into its instruction. Take point-of-care ultrasound. Currently, first-year medical students receive initial training with the device, which fits in the palm of their hand, during a module taught in tandem with their human anatomy course. Moving forward, IU will supplement that training as students transition from classrooms to clinical settings.
Students can also utilize technology to enhance or supplement their learning in basic science courses. Today, a student can watch a live-streamed histology lecture from home. Ahead of an exam, they can also access that same content in a digital archive. Under this setup, a student has the flexibility to control when, where, and how they learn.
Our goal is to graduate superbly-trained physicians who are ready to enter residency training because they have learned important medical knowledge, learned about themselves and are ready to care for others.