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Pritzker launches program to reshape future of medical education

UChicago one of 31 U.S. medical schools in latest AMA effort

November 6, 2015

The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine is joining more than two dozen other medical schools from across the country in a wide-reaching effort to transform medical education, the American Medical Association announced this week.

Pritzker will redevelop aspects of its curriculum so each student learns elements of health care delivery science, an emerging field that studies the intersection of scientific research and the day-to-day delivery of health care. The work will be done as part of the AMA's Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium. The medical school is receiving a $75,000, three-year grant to implement its project called VISTA: Curriculum & Culture Change to Cultivate Physicians of the Future. The VISTA acronym stands for value, improvement, safety and team advocates.

"Every student will be involved in this," said Vineet Arora, MD, associate professor of medicine and assistant dean for scholarship and discovery at the University of Chicago Medicine. "The goal is not just to teach students about how to care for a patient, but to teach them about how to work in the system of health care to achieve the best care for their patients."

Through the consortium work, Pritzker students will:

  • Learn to address and counsel patients about how to improve the value of their medical care;
  • Get earlier training to identify, report and improve safety hazards;
  • Practice working with nurses and pharmacists in interprofessional care teams;
  • Become empowered to be better advocates for their patients.

Many physicians don't receive elements of this training until they begin more advanced work in clinical settings, said Jeanne Farnan, MD, associate professor of medicine and assistant dean for curricular development and evaluation at UChicago Medicine. Farnan and Arora, who are co-principal investigators of the grant, say the training will be infused throughout the current Pritzker curriculum, particularly in the clinical skills classes students take during their first, second and third years.

Michael Howell, MD, MPH, associate chief medical officer for clinical quality at UChicago Medicine, is a member of the VISTA steering committee. He said the Pritzker project will make sure students understand how health care delivery science improves medical care.

“It’s a new and emerging field, but it will be critical for our students and residents to be successful in the future,” he said. “The University of Chicago is particularly well positioned to help move this field forward.”

Pritzker is one of 20 medical schools named to the AMA consortium Nov. 4. These schools are joining the 11 original medical schools that were awarded grants in 2013. Combined, programs developed by the expanded consortium will support training for an estimated 18,000 medical students who will one day care for 31 million patients a year.

"Our goal throughout this initiative has been to spread the robust work being done by our consortium to accelerate systemic change throughout medical education," said AMA Chief Executive James L. Madara, MD. "By tripling the number of schools participating in this effort, we know that we will be able to more quickly disseminate the consortium schools' innovative curriculum models to even more schools—leading to the type of seismic shift that the medical education system needs so that future physicians can better care for their patients."

The work in the AMA consortium has a singular goal: transforming medical education to better align with the 21st century health care system. Through a competitive grant process, the schools were selected from 170 eligible U.S. medical schools by a national advisory panel, which sought proposals that would significantly redesign medical education.

Some elements of the VISTA program, which are already in place for interns and residents, will be taught to students sooner – before they begin spending time in clinical settings. That includes the patient safety "horror room" boot camp that Arora and Farnan run each year for interns.

The Pritzker program will also include training for UChicago Medicine faculty, who will be supporting the undergraduate education efforts. Meanwhile, students will also use social media and apps during certain aspects of their VISTA work.

The changes are expected to begin in the fall of 2016. Officials hope that the curriculum additions will become permanent once the grant funding expires.

The list of selected consortium schools, along with short descriptions of each school's project, can be found at www.changemeded.org.

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