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Integration of Basic Science and Clinical Medicine: The Innovative Approach of the Cadaver Biopsy Project at the Boston University School of Medicine

Eisenstein, Anna; Vaisman, Lev MASc; Johnston-Cox, Hillary; Gallan, Alexander MD; Shaffer, Kitt MD, PhD; Vaughan, Deborah PhD; O’Hara, Carl MD; Joseph, Lija MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000054
Innovation Reports

Problem Curricular integration has emerged as a consistent theme in medical education reform. Vertical integration of topics such as pathology offers the potential to bring basic science content into the clinical arena, but faculty/student acceptance and curricular design pose challenges for such integration.

Approach The authors describe the Cadaver Biopsy Project (CBP) at Boston University School of Medicine as a sustainable model of vertical integration. Faculty and select senior medical students obtained biopsies of cadavers during the first-year gross anatomy course (fall 2009) and used these to develop clinical cases for courses in histology (spring 2010), pathology (fall 2010–spring 2011), and radiology (fall 2011 or spring 2012), thereby linking students’ first experiences in basic sciences with other basic science courses and later clinical courses. Project goals included engaging medical stu dents in applying basic science princi ples in all aspects of patient care as they acquire skills. The educational intervention used a patient (cadaver)-centered approach and small-group, collaborative, case-based learning.

Outcomes Through this project, the authors involved clinical and basic science faculty—plus senior medical students—in a collaborative project to design and implement an integrated curriculum through which students revisited, at several different points, the microscopic structure and pathophysiology of common diseases.

Next Steps Developing appropriate, measurable out comes for medical education initiatives, including the CBP, is challenging. Accumu lation of qualitative feedback from surveys will guide continuous improvement of the CBP. Documenting longer-term impact of the curricular innovation on test scores and other competency-based outcomes is an ultimate goal.

Ms. Eisenstein is an MD-PhD student, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Vaisman is an MD-PhD student, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ms. Johnston-Cox is an MD-PhD student, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Gallan is a pathology resident, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Shaffer is professor of radiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Vaughan is professor of anatomy and neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. O’Hara is professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Joseph is adjunct associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Funding/Support: The authors thank Mark Sobel, MD, of the American Society for Investigative Pathology, who provided funding for this project.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: This project was deemed exempt by the institutional review board at Boston University School of Medicine.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A169, http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A170, and http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A171.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Joseph, 35 Kendall Rd., Newton, MA 02459; telephone: (978) 937-6341; e-mail: lijjoseph@gmail.com.

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges