Curriculum Updates and Student Empowerment

When College of Medicine students told faculty and staff that they want to bring positive change to their classroom experience, independent study, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) test scores and residency preparedness, their voices were heard.

In July, the College of Medicine curriculum will change from a discipline-based model to an integrated, systems-based model with a focus on active learning. This new model aligns with best educational practices nationally and will enhance student mastery of content.

A new Curriculum Change Initiative section has been added to the College of Medicine website. The site provides the latest details on the initiative,  ways to get involved and Frequently Asked Questions.  

Student-organized panel

Here’s an example of how one student has brought positive changes to curriculum.

The topic of obesity is one that the LCME requires to be included in the medical curriculum, so when second-year College of Medicine student Ashley Myer had an idea for an obesity program, she found a receptive listener in Ryan Palmer, Ed.D., associate dean of the College of Medicine.

“I wanted to give my peers and others pragmatic advice,” says Myer. Her plan? To bring three NEOMED alumni – a bariatric surgeon, a bariatrician and an endocrinologist with whom she has been working at Summa Akron City Hospital to present a panel discussion that she will moderate. The grand rounds event, open to the public, will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at Watanakunakorn Auditorium.

Myer’s goal is for the panelists to dispel myths around obesity and establish a base knowledge of its pathophysiology, epidemiology and related social factors. She is excited that if all goes well, the panel could serve as a prototype for an actual curriculum module the following year. “It’s empowering,” she says. And she was gratified that all three faculty members (all NEOMED alumni) were so eager to participate.

Guiding principles for the new curriculum initiative

In response to student feedback, and to align NEOMED’s curriculum with national benchmarks, the first-year College of Medicine curriculum will look like this:

  • The curriculum will be organized by systems or themes, rather than disciplines such as anatomy or neurobiology.
  • The daily schedule for first-year College of Medicine students will be 3-4 hours each day, 4 days a week, of active learning in the classroom. The fifth day each week will be devoted to clinical activities.
  • The number of in-class hours will be capped at 24 hours per week to allow students more time for wellness and self-directed study.
  • Learning sessions will be participatory and active, with students completing self-directed learning in preparation.
  • Mid-course and end-of-course assessments will be made, aligned to the NBME to provide evidence of content mastery.
  • Content will be relevant to becoming a physician.

How it’s being done

Four teams are leading the curriculum change work, reflecting the collaboration of many faculty and staff members across campus.

The design team has been focusing on the order of courses, academic calendar, teaching and assessment strategies.

The faculty development team will develop sessions geared towards the new active learning teaching methods.

Recent training

  • In February, leaders from the Wright State Boonshoft School of Medicine facilitated a Peer Instruction workshop on campus for all faculty and staff. Peer instruction is a flipped classroom instructional method.
  • On February 25-26, a curriculum consultant met with many members of the COM faculty and administration to review and discuss best practices in curriculum management and curriculum operations. This consultation will guide the work of the curriculum committee moving forward.

Upcoming training

Thursday, March 5, from 10-11 a.m., faculty development will continue with “Molding the Millennial Mind” in Olson Auditorium. Contact Jennifer Hillyer,,for more information.

All faculty are invited to get involved with the Curriculum Change Initiative. For more information, contact Jennifer Lint at

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