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Special Theme: Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine: IN PROGRESS—SEPTEMBER 2002: SPECIAL FEATURE: CURRICULAR CHANGE

Implementing a Systematic Course/Clerkship Peer Review Process


Section Editor(s): ANDERSON, M. BROWNELL

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Objective: A systematic course/clerkship peer-review process was developed to meet several objectives: improvement of quality of course/clerkship, enhancement of understanding of individual course and overall curricular content, improvement of communication and collaboration between basic science and clinical disciplines across campuses, provision of forum to address curricular concerns of students and faculty, facilitation of data collection for LCME reviews and the AAMC CurrMIT project; and monitoring curricular equivalency at multiple clinical sites.

Description: Previously each course had carried out an internal review process. These reviews varied considerably in terms of the data collected and how those data were used for quality improvement. Data and outcomes of the internal reviews were seldom shared with colleagues, students, or administrators. This limited communication discouraged collaboration and led to disparity in curricular content between campuses. A collaborative effort between the medical school's Office of Medical Education (OME) and the Education Council, the faculty governance committee composed of faculty from each basic science and clinical department on each campus, has led to the development and implementation of a systematic course/clerkship peer-review process. Two standing committees of the Education Council oversee the systematic review process. One committee is charged with oversight of the first two years of the curriculum and a second committee with oversight of the third and fourth years. A two-tiered course/clerkship review process was designed with all courses undergoing a limited annual review. A comprehensive, “nuts and bolts” review for required courses was to occur every three years. The limited annual review was based on course evaluations completed by students, collected and summarized by the OME, and presented to the Education Council. The comprehensive review of a required course/clerkship occurred over a six-to-eight-month period. Course directors on each campus completed a questionnaire and submitted materials. To facilitate cross-discipline communication and synergy, a subcommittee composed of both basic science and clinical faculty, principally course directors, and at least one medical student who had completed the course at each campus reviewed submitted materials and had a series of meetings with the course directors, support personnel, and department chairs. Final review reports presented to the Education Council identify issues, concerns, and recommendations for action. To date 11 required courses have completed the comprehensive review process. Simple oversights, significant curricular disparity between campuses, and opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration have been identified and addressed. Student-rated satisfaction has improved for those courses that have been reviewed.

Discussion: The systematic course/clerkship peer-review process has been a success, although there was initial resistance to “outside review.” We have not yet completed one cycle of comprehensive course reviews but already faculty and administration have a better understanding of individual course and overall curriculum content. Faculty have developed working relationships and are sharing educational strategies across disciplines and campuses, and identifying innovative collaborations. The annual review process is now perceived to lack depth and is under reconsideration.

Section Description

Peer-reviewed Collection of Reports on Innovative Approaches to Medical Education

© 2002 Association of American Medical Colleges