Reforms to Medical Curriculum Benefit Students at the University of New Mexico

Preparing Physicians for the Future: A Program in Medical Education

From 1990 to 1999, the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, combined elements of its alternative curriculum, which offered variations of clinical experience, with its traditional curriculum and offered the resulting integrated curriculum to all of its undergraduate medical students.

The program was part the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Preparing Physicians for the Future: A Program in Medical Education.

Though many elements of reform ran into unexpected difficulties—e.g., dissent within the faculty and a changing economic environment that put increased pressure on faculty to focus on patient service rather than teaching—the problems did not block the merging of the tracks.

Key Results:

  • The school merged three different tracks—Primary Care, Health of the Public, and the traditional courses—into a new curriculum.

    A key feature of the new curriculum was a clinical skills/clinical practicum course that brought student learning into a real-life context.
  • The project altered the governance structure through the creation of a policy-setting Education Council and a curriculum Integrating Group, which met and formulated the plans necessary to implement curricular change and maintain coherence throughout the program.
  • The school implemented a comprehensive performance assessment of students that takes place three times during their four years in medical school.
  • The school's faculty took the lead in publishing in Academic Medicine the combined findings of the consortium of RWJF-granted schools.