This month the IAMSE publications committee review is taken from the article titled ‘Pathology Rotations Embedded Within Surgery Clerkships Can Shift Student Perspectives About Pathology’ (2022) by Alexander S. Taylor, Lauren Kroll-Wheeler and Madelyn Lew.
Multiple advantages of an integrated curriculum have been documented in literature such as appreciation of clinical relevance of foundational sciences, early exposure to clinical medicine, formation of professional identity, laying of an educational foundation for team-based collaborative care, etc. The significance of horizontal and vertical integration in medical education is evident from the fact that the number of publications related to integrated curricula has also gone up in recent times.
This article discusses an approach that allows the integration of pathology with surgery in the medical curriculum. The authors indicate that while medical students are exposed to basic principles of pathology in their preclinical curriculum, there remains a need to expose the students to the clinical practice of pathology and help them recognize pathology as a medical specialty. To achieve this, a mandatory 1-week pathology rotation was incorporated during surgery clerkship at the University of Michigan Medical School. This pathology rotation included various learning opportunities such as autopsy observation, surgical pathology sign-out sessions, case-based small group sessions, and web-based modules.
To evaluate the effectiveness of this rotation and assess medical student perspectives as well as the perspectives of the educators, surveys were administered to students, pathology faculty, and residents. The student perspectives suggested that the rotation helped them in understanding the workflow in pathology and appreciating the significance of pathology in patient care. Thus overall, the medical students were satisfied with the rotation experience. Faculty and residents on the other hand felt that the presence of medical students during sign-outs decreased their overall efficiency. Some residents also felt that presence of students had an adverse effect on their own learning. Based on these results the authors do anticipate some changes in this pathology rotation that could address some of these issues.
Overall, this unique pathology rotation that is embedded in surgery clerkship does hold great potential in providing students with an integrated experience to learn the clinical significance of pathology and can be adopted by other medical schools with or without modifications.
Aditi Kesari, MBBS, PhD
Department of Medical Education
University of Tennessee Health Science Center (USA)