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MUSC Excellence at the College of Medicine/UMA

Pillar emphasizes education, patient care

by Jerry Reves, M.D.
Dean, College of Medicine
Recall that our Quality Pillar goal emphasizes that we are about education (in addition to patient care and research), and that we are committed to the concept that interdisciplinary programs create synergism:

We achieve the highest standards of excellence in patient care, research and education. We are committed to the philosophy that diversity of our students and faculty improves our quality.  We also are committed to the concept that interdisciplinary programs create synergism not present in single departmental efforts.
Dr. Darrell Kirch, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, outlined in his 2007 address “Culture and the Courage to Change” his premise that our previous academic culture rewarded “individualistic, autonomous expertise,” but that to be successful today we must “focus less on the achievements of individual experts, and more on collaboration between individuals and groups to solve complex problems.” At MUSC we know that teaching learners across disciplines and across professions is critical for success, which is why we had established this as a pillar goal long before Kirch’s pronouncements. 
The impetus for interdisciplinary education is founded in the realization that clinical patient care is rarely, if ever, discipline-specific. Effective patient care requires the input and integration of practitioners from multiple disciplines and a host of other clinical care givers. We know that teaching medical students with a mind toward this integration is where medical education must go if it is to educate effective professionals for the future. Indeed, integration of basic science fundamental concepts with appropriate clinical applications of those concepts is occurring with increasing frequency in other realms of medical teaching. Furthermore, the standardized examinations given to all medical students for licensure incorporate questions that fully integrate material across the disciplines. Our educational programs are addressing this reality. 
This collaboration is also increasingly becoming evident within the medical student curriculum as a whole, in both the basic science as well as clinical science years, wherein integration of educational material across disciplines is becoming much more common. Just as in clinical medicine, the traditional boundaries that organize academic departments within basic science disciplines are becoming increasingly blurred with the realization that solving complex issues  requires cooperation and collaboration not only between individuals, but also between traditional departmental groupings.
Within the larger MUSC campus, this concept is carried further, promoting interprofessional education, where learners from two or more professions learn from, with and about each other. While addressing the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools  reaffirmation process, MUSC demonstrated remarkable foresight by embarking upon the initiative Creating Collaborative Care (C3), which focuses on interprofessional education for all MUSC students. The goal is for our graduates to have the ability to participate as effective team members in interprofessional collaborative health care delivery and research.  Modifications of both curricular as well as extra-curricular approaches are being formulated as a means to this end. 
Some of this initiative is built upon successful examples of interprofessional education already on-going with our students, including the Presidential Scholars Program, which is a unique interprofessional learning experience for participating students and faculty campuswide. Additionally, students from the colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health Professions participated in a Clarion (interprofessional case competition) contest and were awarded second place at a national competition last Spring. Finally, the MUSC CARES clinic, a student-run clinic established by the College of Medicine, has become an interprofessional service-learning initiative wherein pharmacy students, physical therapy students and medical students work together to provide health care to the medically underserved.
Under the C3 initiative, new opportunities within academic programs are being established. Through a grant from the Association of Prevention Teaching and Research, the Interprofessional Service Learning Project (ISLP) has begun. During their family medicine clerkship, medical students in Charleston are working with students from the physician assistant, pharmacy, and health administration programs on a community service learning project that includes the development of interprofessional team competencies. The students have partnered with the MUSC Junior Doctors of Health Program at Wilmot Fraser Elementary School for the community service project. ISLP will expand in the upcoming academic year to engage students at family medicine clerkship sites around the state to promote interprofessional learning with other students in the associated AHEC regions. In the Spring, the Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety Education Center will open on campus, providing new interprofessional learning opportunities for all students through the use of healthcare simulation. A clinical skills laboratory including medical, nursing, and physician assistant students will be held as part of the college’s Intern 101 course in the new center. Other Intern 101 course offerings will be available for students outside of the College of Medicine as well. 
By being a national leader in our recognition of the critical need for incorporating interdisciplinary learning opportunities, I believe strongly that we are preparing our medical students to be leaders when they leave MUSC. We are also establishing critically important alliances with all the other clinicians besides physicians who make up today’s health care team. Society expects this, and we are excelling in this aspect of medical education. Congratulations to all of you who are making this happen.


Friday, Feb. 8, 2008
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