A Medical Science Educator Article Review From Dr. Jennifer Fischer

This month the IAMSE publications committee review is taken from the article titled Developing Comprehensive Strategies to Evaluate Medical School Curricula published in Medical Science Educator (30 October 2018) by Sally A. Santen, Moshe Feldman, Sara Wier, Courtney Blondino, Meagan Rawls, and Susan DiGiovanni. 

For medical education, the ultimate goal of training students to be prepared for residency has not changed, but the educational environment is rapidly shifting. The pandemic has driven new policies and procedures that ultimately affect the delivery of curriculum. These swift adjustments introduce new methods of content delivery that evolve with the health policies and procedures of the moment. As public health mandates vary over time, resources shift, and staff changes occur, it becomes increasingly critical for schools to assess the curricula changes being made. Faculty who participate in curriculum, assessment, and student committees, can benefit from understanding if curricular modifications are achieving the desired goals.

As many programs were forced to adjust training strategies, a question to ask may be what do we keep and what do we go back to? The article by Santen, et al, describes the importance of curricular evaluation and provides resources to achieve meaningful feedback. Readers can identify sources for data collection and can also recognize what those sources help to measure. The authors outline the significance, not only of data collection and multiple sources, but also how context and relationships between facts can be informative. Using this information, educators and administrators can evaluate if trends in attitudes and skills provide insight into the strengths of curriculum and which aspects may need improvement.

Additionally, the article describes key stakeholders in medical school communities that will benefit from the analysis. The monograph offers examples of opportunities for implementing and reviewing evaluation strategies in order to align training with program goals. 
As schools balance the demands of medical education and health safety for students and staff in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, evaluating curriculum changes can inform decisions about which curriculum pieces are working and which are not. The informed decisions should be aimed to meet the needs of the student learners and to improve resident readiness. 

Jennifer Fischer, PhD
Associate Professor
Rowan University
School of Osteopathic Medicine
Department of Molecular Biology