The Harvard Medical School-Cambridge Integrated Clerkship (HMS-CIC) is a redesign of the principal clinical year to foster students' learning from close and continuous contact with cohorts of patients in the disciplines of internal medicine, neurology, obstetrics-gynecology, pediatrics, and psychiatry. With year-long mentoring, students follow their patients through major venues of care. Surgery and radiology also are taught longitudinally, grounded in the clinical experiences of a cohort of patients and in a brief immersion experience working directly with an attending surgeon. Students participate in weekly, case-based tutorials integrating instruction in the basic sciences with training to address the common and important issues in medicine, as identified by national organizations. In addition, they participate in a social science curriculum that focuses on self-reflection, communication skills, ethics, population sciences, and cultural competence.
In the pilot year (July 2004 to July 2005), HMS-CIC students performed at least as well as traditional students in tests of content knowledge and skills, as measured by National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Subject Exams and the fourth-year Objective Structured Clinical Exam, and they scored higher on a year-end comprehensive clinical skills self-assessment examination, suggesting that they retained content knowledge better. From surveys, HMS-CIC students were much more likely to see patients before diagnosis and after discharge and to receive feedback and mentoring from experienced faculty than were their traditionally educated peers. HMS-CIC students expressed more satisfaction with their curriculum and felt better prepared to cope with the professional challenges of patient care, such as being truly caring, involving patients in decision making, and understanding how the social context affects their patients.