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Curriculum Committee News

October 2018
The CURRents newsletter, published by the USA College of Medicine Division of Medical Education, is designed to inform faculty, residents and students about ongoing developments and events in our undergraduate medical education program. In this issue you will be updated on progress toward completion of program initiatives as we work through a PDSA quality improvement cycle of Planning, Doing, Studying and Acting.
Introducing Ultrasound Education in the Curriculum

Current health care practices require utilization of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) skills in multiple settings (Solomon and Saldana, 2014; Zachary and Mills, 2015). The ultimate purpose of POCUS is to improve overall quality of health care. Many medical schools have addressed this need by incorporation of ultrasound education in all four years of undergraduate medical education (Hoppmann et al., 2011; Fox et al., 2012; Dinh et al., 2016). Of 173 medical schools surveyed in 2016 (allopathic and osteopathic), 27.7 percent reported a formal ultrasound curriculum at their school (Dinh et al., 2016). The current curriculum at the USA College Of Medicine does not include formal training or exposure to ultrasound skills in the pre-clerkship activities. Additionally, there is not an organized presentation of ultrasound during the third and fourth years, leaving these experiences largely clerkship or elective specific. An ideal approach demonstrated at other medical schools has been to incorporate ultrasound training and practice during appropriate existing curricular activities throughout the four years of undergraduate medical education (Hoppmann et al., 2011; Fox et al., 2012; Dinh et al., 2016). The broad goals of this curriculum proposal are to establish specific ultrasound education and training in the objectives and delivery of all appropriate components of the USA curriculum. This proposal is in the foundational stages with key steps being to identify resources (funding, faculty, space) and to create a detailed plan for implementing ultrasound activities and courses in our undergraduate curriculum. Dr. Vaughan Lee, Professor in the Division of Medical Education, is spearheading the initiative.

Dinh VA, Fu JY, Lu S, Chiem A, Fox JC, Blaivas M. Integration of Ultrasound in Medical Education  at United States Medical Schools. J. Ultrasound Med 2016; 35:413-419.

Fox JC, Chiem AT, Rooney KP, Maldonaldo G. Web-based lectures, peer instruction and ultrasound-intergrated medical education. Medical Education 2012; 46:1099-1136.

Hoppmann RA, RaoVV, Poston MB, Howe DB, Hunt PS, Fowler SD, Paulman LE, Wells JR, Richeson NA, Catalana PV, Thomas LK, Wilson LB, Cook T, Riffle S, Neuffer FH, McCallum JB, Keisler BD, Brown RS, Gregg AR, Sims KM, Powell CK, Garber MD, Morrison JE, Owens WB, Carnevale KA, Jennings WR, Fletcher S. An integrated ultrasound curriculum (iUSC) for medical students: 4-year experience. Crit Ultrasound J. 2011; 3:1-12. 

Soloman SD, Saldona F. Point-of-Care Ultrasound in Medical Education – Stop Listening and Look. N Engl J Med 2014; 370:1083-1085.

Zachary PS and Mills LD. American Academy of Emergency Medicine Position Statement: Ultrasound Should be Integrated into Undergraduate Medical Education Curriculum. The Journal of Emergency Medicine 2015; 49 (1):89-90.
Exploring Educational Opportunities in Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice and palliative care are both becoming increasingly more important in the current health care climate. Palliative care can be described as a multidisciplinary approach for improving quality of life for those with serious disease. Palliative care is not confined to care at the end of life, but can be utilized at any point by a patient with a life-limiting disease. Hospice is one venue in which palliative care can be delivered, and it is typically reserved for patients in the final six months of life. The USA College of Medicine Curriculum Committee selected palliative care as one of its educational priorities for medical students. In an effort to enhance educational experiences in this area, Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Student Affairs Dr. T.J. Hundley has recently begun conversations with Saad Hospice, who will be opening a new inpatient hospice facility in Mobile in the next few months. This new, 24-patient facility (shown above) will focus on providing comprehensive symptom management, end-of-life care, and respite care through the use of interprofessional care teams. Saad Hospice is excited about exploring opportunities to be involved with our medical students whether that be through our core educational program or other service activities in 2019. Learning the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to deliver compassionate care to these patients and their families will further enhance our students’ preparation in becoming competent physicians. Information will continue to be shared with faculty as it becomes available. If you are involved in a course that you feel would integrate well with this type of experience, contact Dr. Hundley at for further details or discussion.
Focusing on Learning Objectives at Medical Education Retreat

The annual Division of Medical Education Summer Retreat held in July brought together basic science and clinical faculty to review the requirements for constructing quality course objectives that align to measureable assessments. This year the retreat was led by Dr. Tim Gilbert, Assistant Dean for Accreditation and Planning. Dr. Gilbert earned his Doctor of Education degree and brings insight in several areas of instructional design and assessment. A highlight of the retreat was a hands-on wall of teaching objectives created by the participants. Over two days, course and clerkship directors in attendance constructed a map showing where each of the College’s 30 competency-based program objectives for students leading to the MD degree is currently taught across the courses and clerkships spanning the four-year curriculum. The inventory revealed how USA’s Program Objectives leading to all six of the ACGME’s core competencies have been integrated across the pre-clerkship and clerkship phases of instruction in the College of Medicine. Discussion on ways to enhance coverage of specific objectives in the curriculum focused on assessment strategies for the small group learning environment that dominates instruction across the training experience, motivating participants with new ideas for improving their courses and clerkships for AY 2018-2019.
Master's of Education in Health Professions Track Established

The USA College of Education, in cooperation with the USA College of Medicine, now offers a specialty track Masters of Education focusing on competencies related to the instruction and training of health care professionals. The health professions track's emphasis is on instructional design pertinent to pre-clinical, clinical, and continuing medical and health care educational contexts. The program is intended for professionals already working as medical school faculty or residents, as well as physicians and other allied health care professionals working in educational and professional settings and who are responsible for meeting the training needs of health care professionals in these settings. The College of Medicine is now offering educational loans to select faculty who participate in the degree program. Continued service at the University following completion of the degree requirements may result in loan forgiveness.
View the 2018-2019 Bulletin for the M.D. Program
Copyright © 2018 University of South Alabama College of Medicine Curriculum Committee, All rights reserved.

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