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The undergraduate medical curriculum: centralized versus departmentalized.

Reynolds, C F 3rd; Adler, S; Kanter, S L; Horn, J P; Harvey, J; Bernier, G M Jr
Academic Medicine: August 1995
Journal Article: PDF Only

The authors describe the advantages and disadvantages of central governance of the undergraduate medical curriculum as contrasted with traditional departmental approaches, based upon their school's experience with a new centrally governed curriculum during the preceding four years. Central governance has more advantages, but also more costs, compared with traditional departmental approaches. Central governance does what it was intended to do: it provides rational and integrative mechanisms for ensuring a broad general education in medicine focusing on the doctor-patient relationship. It also provides an effective mechanism for dealing with "turf" and time issues in the curriculum while allowing for and encouraging changes and providing mechanisms for evaluating those changes. However, as the allocation of resources and rewards remains more departmentally than centrally based, a major challenge of central governance has been to help faculty resolve a "conflict of loyalty" (the sense of serving two masters) between school and department, particularly in the evaluation and reward of teaching. On balance, central governance provides a powerful means of introducing broad-based reforms into all elements of the undergraduate medical curriculum, but it requires ongoing collaboration with faculty and chairs to assist them in negotiating competing pressures and priorities as they strive to become excellent teachers.

(C) 1995 Association of American Medical Colleges