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.