Problem: Medical schools are challenged to realign curricula to address society’s needs in a rapidly changing environment, and to support new instruction and assessment methods that require substantial faculty time.
Approach: In 2010, the University of Michigan Medical school began planning the Global Health and Disparities Path of Excellence (GHD Path), an optional co-curriculum for students interested in health disparities, with explicit goals to (1) draw attention to the school’s social mission; (2) test new, faculty-intensive methods of learning and assessment for all students; and (3) serve as a template for additional co-curricular paths.
Outcomes: Intended outcomes of the program include enhancing students’ competency in leadership related to ameliorating health disparities and the study institution’s ability to plan feasible and effective schoolwide reforms in self-directed learning, faculty advising systems, narrative-based feedback for goal setting, Web-based student portfolios, and additional Paths of Excellence.
Next Steps: During academic year 2013–2014, the GHD Path is adding more community-based experiences. The faculty development and support model will be streamlined to decrease resources required for program development while retaining key features of the advising system. Lessons from the GHD Path are central to planning schoolwide reform of instructional methods, faculty advising, and student portfolios. The use of a small-scale program to pilot new ideas to inform longer-term, larger-scale changes at our institution might prove useful to other schools striving to meet societal needs while implementing innovative methods of instruction and assessment.