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Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships for Medical Students: An Innovation Adopted by Medical Schools in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United States

Norris, Thomas E. MD; Schaad, Douglas C. PhD; DeWitt, Dawn MD, MSc; Ogur, Barbara MD; Hunt, D Daniel MD, MBA; members of the Consortium of Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181a85776

Purpose: Integrated clinical clerkships represent a relatively new and innovative approach to medical education that uses continuity as an organizing principle, thus increasing patient-centeredness and learner-centeredness. Medical schools are offering longitudinal integrated clinical clerkships in increasing numbers. This report collates the experiences of medical schools that use longitudinal integrated clerkships for medical student education in order to establish a clearer characterization of these experiences and summarize outcome data, when possible.

Method: The authors sent an e-mail survey with open text responses to 17 medical schools with known longitudinal integrated clerkships.

Results: Sixteen schools in four countries on three continents responded to the survey. Fifteen institutions have active longitudinal integrated clerkships in place. Two programs began before 1995, but the others are newer. More than 2,700 students completed longitudinal integrated clerkships in these schools. The median clerkship length is 40 weeks, and in 15 of the schools, the core clinical content was in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics-gynecology. Eleven schools reported supportive student responses to the programs. No differences were noted in nationally normed exam scores between program participants and those in the traditional clerkships. Limited outcomes data suggest that students who participate in these programs are more likely to enter primary care careers.

Conclusions: This study documents the increasing use of longitudinal integrated clerkships and provides initial insights for institutions that may wish to develop similar clinical programs. Further study will be needed to assess the long-term impact of these programs on medical education and workforce initiatives.

Author Information

Dr. Norris is vice dean for academic affairs and professor of family medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington.

Dr. Schaad is head of the division of medical education and evaluation and associate professor, Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington.

Dr. DeWitt is head, School of Rural Health, clinical dean, Rural Clinical School, and professor of rural medical education, University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences School of Rural Health, Shepparton, Australia.

Dr. Ogur is co-course director, Harvard Medical School-Cambridge Integrated Clerkship, and assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

At the time this study was written, Dr. Hunt was vice dean for academic activities at the Thunder Bay campus of Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. He is now secretary, Liaison Committee on Medical Education, and senior director of accreditation services, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

Editor’s Note: Commentaries on this article appear on pages 821 and 822.

For a list of the members of the Consortium of Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships, please see article.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Norris, Office of the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Suite A-300, UW Box 356340, Seattle, Washington, 98195-6340; telephone: (206) 685-3466; e-mail: (

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges