For the past decade, the medical school and the health system have been working deliberately to understand and address how to improve the way teachers and learners interact in the learning environment, especially when caring for patients. The school has taken the approach to reduce issues through better reporting mechanisms, discussions in multiple settings, and involvement of leadership. Since 2010, work on improving civility in the learning environment has evolved in three phases: Understanding (2010-11), Enhancing (2012-16), and Systematizing (2017-present). At each phase, the school has expanded awareness, discussions and interventions.
For almost 20 years, medical students on the way to becoming doctors were evaluated by measuring their competency in six areas: patient care, medical knowledge, communication, professionalism, systems-based practice, practice-based learning, and improvement. In the process of transforming Michigan’s medical student curriculum over the past few years, leadership added two more competencies: 1) leadership, teamwork and inter-professionalism, and 2) critical thinking and discovery to align with the overall program goals to make students leaders and change agents in medicine.
As they prepare for residency and the ultimate goal of becoming a doctor, University of Michigan medical students now have more opportunities to personalize their education and make meaningful impact in their area of interest. The Branches — the third and fourth year of the medical student curriculum — offer learners a personalized educational phase that they can tailor with the help of advisors, mentors and coaches. Branches help give students more options to learn and grow. The four Branches are: Diagnostics and Therapeutics, Patients and Populations, Procedure-Based Care, and Systems and Hospital-Based Care.
Many medical students come to Michigan with an interest in conducting research. Others find an interest in scientific inquiry during their studies to become a doctor. Whenever the research bug bites, the new medical student curriculum ensures they have a supportive environment to purse this endeavor. Under the old curricular model, students often conducted a research project during the summer between their M1 and M2 years. Now, they have opportunities to do so anytime, especially during the branches phase of the curriculum (M3-M4 years), after they have completed their clinical clerkships.
U-M medical students learn plenty of science throughout their time traversing the medical student curriculum. In fact, their learning of science never ends. n 2016, as part of an extensive transformation of how and what U-M students learn, the Medical School launched an architectural transition from a 17 (M1-M2 years) + 12 (M3 year) +12 (M4 year)-month medical student curriculum to a three-phase 12 (M1-Scientific Trunk) + 12 (M2-Clinical Trunk) +17 (M3-M4 Branches)-month model. In the new curriculum, science is taught every year (not just the first two), with the opportunity to deliver scientific content relevant to the professional and developmental context of the student.
Well-being and creating an environment that supports healthy learning and care is of the highest importance to Michigan Medicine. Within the medical school, students can find a community of support through our M-Home, where activities and learning opportunities promote well-being inside and outside of the classroom. In addition, a new Michigan Medicine Wellness Office has been established to bring together many initiatives through a system-wide approach for all faculty, staff and learners to support and coordinate wellness initiatives. While there have been positive changes, we know there is more work to be done.