Students discuss ideas at a whiteboard table

Our Process

Creating a New (and Improving) Curriculum

Transforming a curriculum that has been in place for 160+ years requires a significant amount of planning, coordination, lively exchanges, proposals, votes, and meetings, meetings, meetings. In the end, this process brought together more than 200 faculty, students and staff committed to the same cause: to ensure the University of Michigan Medical School’s place at the forefront of change to benefit all of the patients we serve.

This is how we did it.

Vision of the Physician Leader

A new vision of what it means to be a physician leader unfolded as the new curriculum came into focus. Seven themes defining essential capabilities developed:

  1. Leadership. Able to question and challenge the status quo. Able to manage oneself and exert influence over others.
  2. Teamwork. Able to work collaboratively in interdisciplinary/interprofessional settings of care. Able to communicate effectively.
  3. Systems. Understands systems of health care. Able to navigate him/herself within systems to deliver and coordinate care for patients.
  4. Patient Care. Able to engage patients and develop trust. Able to navigate patients through the process, choices, and value of the system.
  5. Creation & Discovery. Able to apply creative/critical thinking to develop new solutions or information. Able to utilize current and emerging technology.
  6. Lifelong Learning. Intrinsically oriented towards learning and development. Engages in introspection. Able to find and judge information.
  7. Foundational Skills & Knowledge. Understands and applies knowledge foundational to medicine. Able to perform tasks required of the general physician.

Community Engagement

The Curriculum Policy Committee sought to leverage the strength of community that we have at UMMS to develop and implement the new curriculum. By engaging the faculty, staff, and students across the University of Michigan Health System as well as interdisciplinary collaborations in the development of the new curriculum, a robust exchange of ideas and information took place.

Governance Model

Curriculum Strategic Planning Governance Model infographic

Throughout the five-year curriculum transformation, more than 200 students, faculty and staff held a position on one of several committees, each tasked with specific activities and goals.

In December 2012, Dr. James Woolliscroft charged the Curriculum Policy Committee (CPC) to explore new curriculum models to address the current challenges in health care and medical education.

In 2013, the CPC approved the design of a model, and charged the formation of Steering and Operating Committees reportable to the CPC for the design and implementation of the new curricular model.

The Steering and Operating Committees further formed four work groups each charged with the design of the main curricular elements. The initiative engages our community of students within the workgroup as well as through the Student Advisory Committee.

Committees & Groups

  • Curriculum Policy Committee
  • Steering Committee
  • Operating Committee
  • Student Advisory Committee
  • Trunk Work Group
  • M-Home Work Group
  • Branches Work Group
  • Leadership and Paths of Excellence Work Group
  • Interprofessional Education (IPE) Work Group

Student Advisory Committee

The University of Michigan Medical School aimed to include as many voices as possible in curriculum reform. The Student Advisory Committee (SAC) was established to students interested in medical education to offer input to the faculty members enacting the curriculum changes.

The SAC consisted entirely of medical students elected by their classmates. It included two students from each of the M1 - M4 classes, and one MSTP student.

SAC representatives acted as liaisons between the rest of the student body, the work groups, and the Steering Committee. The SAC’s responsibilities included keeping students informed about proposed curricular changes (via regular town halls); obtaining feedback from the student body (via surveys and focus groups); maintaining open communication between the student body and the curriculum reform leaders.

Faculty Vote

The structure, content, and delivery of the medical student curriculum are owned by the UMMS Executive Faculty. Per Medical School bylaws, any major change to the structure of the curriculum requires a vote of the Executive Faculty on the proposal prior to implementation.

Leading up to the faculty vote in June 2015, the Curriculum Policy Committee presented their case for change. The overall direction, structure, and defining eight elements of the proposed new curriculum represented a major change that required a majority vote of the Executive Faculty to proceed. Their approval allowed faculty to continue to refine and implement the new curricular program through 2018.

On June 25, 2015, then-Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., announced a high turnout for the faculty vote that led to the approval of the proposed new curriculum. In a strong show of support, more than 80% of the faculty who voted endorsed the proposal.