Curriculum Committee News
University of South Alabama College of Medicine
January 2015
The CURRents newsletter, published three times each year by the College of Medicine Division of Medical Education, is designed to inform USA COM faculty, residents and students about ongoing developments and events in our UME program. Its format parallels UME quality improvement efforts. Hence, in every issue you will be updated on the current stage of progress toward completion of a particular program initiative as we work through a PDSA quality improvement cycle of Planning, Doing, Studying and Acting.


Curriculum Committee design and goals for 2014-2015: The Curriculum Committee, chaired by Dr. Tony Gard, is responsible for development, monitoring and continuous improvement of the UME curriculum. Biweekly meetings alternate between thought sessions designed to educate members on current changes forthcoming or in transition among medical schools across the country, and meetings devoted to reports and recommendations from the seven standing subcommittees that conduct the majority of the Committee’s work. The subcommittees meet monthly, collaborate, report and provide actionable recommendations to the parent Committee. The graphic above illustrates the structure and function of the Curriculum Committee and its subcommittees. Read additional information regarding subcommittee members, specific roles and goals.


Highlighted for this edition is the launching of the AAMC-sponsored Teaching for Quality (Te4Q) program spearheaded by Sam McQuiston, Jose Hamm and Clara Massey. Our goals for Te4Q are to support faculty competency in principles of continuous Quality Improvement/Patient Safety (QI/PS), to promote the development of a critical mass of faculty skilled in the teaching, curriculum design and assessment of QI/PS competencies, and thus to integrate QI/PS into our UME and GME programs. The next step is to formally contract with the AAMC to bring Te4Q training to USA. We will host an AAMC-led training workshop for faculty this coming summer. Dr. McQuiston is Assistant Dean for GME, while Drs. Hamm and Massey chair the Performance Improvement Committees at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital and USAMC, respectively. 


Curriculum Committee continues to monitor national outcome measures of student performance. Based on the interim NBME score report through September, USA students posted the highest USA STEP1 mean score to date since the online database was established. Our pass rate (97%) exceeds the national norm (95%). Considering that other schools’ STEP1 scores commonly decreased following the switch to an integrated organ-based curriculum, our result from the first class to complete the new pre-clerkship curriculum at USA is a testament to the quality of our students’ preparation.

STEP2CK performance for the graduating Class of 2014 attests to the caliber of our educational program in the junior clerkships. The USA mean score for 2014 increased 8 points over 2013, topping the national mean, and matched the national pass rate (97%).
USMLE USA National
STEP1 score 230 230
STEP2CK score 242 240
The overall STEP2CS pass rate for the Class of 2014 was 94% vs the national mean of 96%. To pass, students must pass each of three 2CS elements: the Integrated Clinical Encounter, Communication and Interpersonal Skills, and Spoken English Proficiency. STEP2CS pass rates for both USA and national cohorts showed a modest decline from 2013. For the first time, the NBME has published %tile tables for raw 3-digit scores earned on STEP exams.


During the last three years the COM has implemented the redesigned competency-based curriculum in successive phases. Activities involving curriculum implementation and redevelopment are now focused on the M4 year. These include competency-based reformatting of acting internships and specialty courses as well as redevelopment of assessment methods for these rotations. In order to enhance these efforts, M4 curriculum liaisons have been named and are currently engaged in several departments. One of the primary roles of the M4 liaisons will be to facilitate communication between the curriculum committee and the multiple M4 course directors. In addition, M4 liaisons will actively participate in student advisory activities during the senior year.

In this issue:


Tony Gard, PhD
Assistant Dean for Medical Education, Assessment and Evaluation

Benjamin Estrada, MD
Assistant Dean for Medical Education, Faculty Development

Guest Contributor:

Mary Townsley, PhD
Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs


Andrea Wright, MLIS
Information Services Coordinator, USA Biomedical Library
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this newsletter or our UME program, let us know at
Copyright © 2015 University of South Alabama College of Medicine Curriculum Committee, All rights reserved.

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