A Curricular Model for the Training of Physician Scientists: The Evolution of the Duke University School of Medicine Curriculum

Grochowski, Colleen O’Connor PhD; Halperin, Edward Charles MD, MA; Buckley, Edward George MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3180333575
Educational Innovations

Duke University School of Medicine offers an unusual doctor of medicine educational program. The core basic sciences are taught in year one, core clinical clerkships are completed in the second year, the entire third year is devoted to scholarly investigation, and elective rotations are fulfilled in the fourth year. The creation of this unique structure presented many challenges and is the product of a desire of key faculty 40 years ago to change radically the way medical education was taught. Over the years, improvements have been made, but the underlying principles of these visionary leaders have been retained: inquire not just acquire, flexibility of choice, and in-depth exploration.

In the spirit of innovation that was established 40 years ago, leaders and faculty at Duke developed a new curricular model in 2004, called Foundation for Excellence, which is anchored in integrated, interdisciplinary innovation. The authors describe the process of curricular reform and provide a detailed overview of this unique approach to medical education.

In keeping with Duke’s mission to graduate clinician–researchers and clinician–educators, reducing the basic science curriculum to one year created a year saved, which students are now required to devote to scholarly pursuits. The authors argue that adopting a similar one-year basic science curriculum would make instructional time available for other schools to achieve their own institutional goals.

Dr. Grochowski is associate dean for curriculum development, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Halperin is dean, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

Dr. Buckley is vice dean for education, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Grochowski, Duke University School of Medicine, DUMC 3899, Durham, NC 27710; telephone: (919) 684-5967; fax: (919) 681-7799; e-mail: (groch001@mc.duke.edu).

© 2007 Association of American Medical Colleges