Additional lectures and mini-cases remain

More live lectures and the addition of mini-cases to the system-based modules (SBMs) were reported in detail in the February and April issues of OUM News. It was also noted that these changes were being made as a pilot test for Term 1702 with evaluation to follow. Now that Term 1703 has arrived, the University’s Steering Committee has decided to continue these curriculum changes, with minor adjustments to the pilot offerings.

Adding class time to the SBMs followed a similar increase in live teaching that had occurred with the e-Foundation and e-ITM courses during 2016. During the SBM pilot in Term 1702, two 1.5 hour sessions were added to the SBMs each week. These newly-added sessions feature two mini-cases to be examined and discussed by students for 45 minutes each during the additional class periods, expanding from 54 to 270 the number of clinical entities covered during the SBM phase of the curriculum.

“The purpose of the changes has always been to reinforce basic science principles in the existing topics, in addition to giving students the opportunity to learn about new topics,” says Scott Cunningham, MD, PhD, OUM’s Director of Curriculum who authored all the new mini-cases, together with longtime OUM consultant Robert Cohn, MD, OUM’s Albert L. Lehninger Professor of Biochemistry and retired Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (USA). “This represents a quantum leap in exposure to new material and the underlying basic sciences,” he says.

Moving forward from the pilot, the major change will be that extra credit no longer will be offered for participation and/or for providing written answers to the ten talking points associated with each mini-case.

“The goal of offering the extra credit had originally been to encourage attendance and participation,” says Dr. Cunningham. “As it turned out, the extra credit didn’t have the intended effect, so the decision was made to discontinue.”

Dr. Cunningham queried all students who took part in the mini-case discussions, and every respondent said the new content was a great addition.

Now in his eighth SBM, Duc Nguyen of Adelaide, South Australia, says that while he believes the mini cases have increased his basic science knowledge – also making him feel like a traditional medical student with a massive study load – they have definitely taken considerable time to research and study.

Duc added that scheduling has been challenging around family and work responsibilities, especially for the Australia/New Zealand students, as the sessions have been falling during their workdays. He hopes to also eventually get more direction regarding literature to read in advance of the lectures.

“I do believe the cases are worthwhile and do a lot for us in the long run with regards to establishing lifelong learning,” says Duc.

While attendance is not required, it has been strongly encouraged. Students are reminded that their participation is critical to the success of the program, as peer exchange enhances overall learning. They should also remember that even if they do not attend mini-case discussions, the faculty facilitator still records lectures on the talking points associated with each case.