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Stanford Report, April 30, 2003

What they’re saying about the new curriculum

By SUSAN IPAKCHIAN

Ted Sectish, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics and chair of the medical school Faculty Senate’s Committee on Courses and Curriculum: "We’re raising the bar on expectations for involvement in meaningful scholarship. Under the new curriculum, every student will graduate with an area of expertise. The changes will make Stanford even more renowned. It will produce doctors who are multifaceted, engage in reflective thinking, and will be more likely to evaluate information from the literature and apply it to daily patient care. This will shorten the time between discovery and delivering new treatment to patients. Reorganizing the curriculum around organ systems will require a lot of effort, but the faculty are behind it. It’s renewing their excitement about teaching."

Al Taira, third-year medical student and a member of the Committee on Courses and Curriculum: "A lot of the current students are saying they wish they had the opportunities that will be available through the new curriculum. Most medical students already have interests, such as community service, when they come here. A lot of students feel as if they’ll have to give up those interests while they’re in medical school. Stanford is telling them that not only should they not give up their interest, but that the school wants them to get really good at it through the in-depth concentrations. The advantage of the concentrations is that you’ll be with a small group of people who share your interests. The students will also be able to draw on the full resources of the university, not just the medical school."

Oscar Salvatierra, MD, professor of surgery (transplantation) and of pediatrics who also chairs the medical school’s Faculty Senate:
"The new curriculum will form the habits, manners and language of the medical students. It’s like with a baby — what you learn early on will be part of your life and your career. The use of basic science will become an integral part of that doctor and an integral part of medicine and should be an integral part of future medicine. We will have a new physician who will be able to assimilate the knowledge that is continually evolving in medicine, and that will be better for the patient. The new curriculum is the key to advancing an exciting new era of medicine, and the faculty at Stanford support it. All of the changes in the curriculum have been unanimously approved by the Faculty Senate, which is half basic-science faculty and half clinical-science faculty."

Neil Gesundheit, MD, associate dean for medical education and associate professor of medicine (endocrinology):
"Most medical schools give students a solid background so that they can become good clinicians. We’re upping the ante. We want to give them the opportunity to become early experts in a field, and we’re giving them a broad range of areas to choose from. We have so many strengths at Stanford — both in the medical school and throughout the university — that we feel we’re well-positioned to pull this off."

Julie Parsonnet, MD, senior associate dean for medical education and associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases):
"The curriculum will be a galvanizing force across the whole campus. It will get graduate students and medical students more intertwined. It will bring graduate students into the clinical areas. The new curriculum will be a bridge to an exciting career in medicine."