SOM Publishes Paper on its Unique Competency-Based Curriculum   

SOM Publishes Paper on its Unique Competency-Based Curriculum

School of Medicine Students

Since its inception, the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine (HMSOM) has had a competency-based curriculum, unlike its peers who structure their programs centered mostly around a time-bound curricular structure.

Since the first students started their education at HMSOM in 2018, through to the present, this has meant that there is an individualized focus tailored to the students’ educational needs and goals. When more help is needed, this means extra time for the doctors-in-training to master core skills and knowledge; and it means further opportunities for research projects, or even additional master’s degrees, for the quicker learners among the cohorts.

This unique curriculum is working - and working well, report SOM leaders in a new publication in the journal Medical Education Online published in April.

“The structure of our educational program aims to make (medical school) curricula less time-bound, and driven more by student competency acquisition and individual goals,” write the authors, who are: Miriam Hoffman, M.D., vice dean for Academic Affairs; Lindsey Dedow, Psy.D, assistant dean of Advising and Career Development; and Jeffrey Boscamp, M.D., president and dean of the school.

The curriculum is a “3+1 macro-structure” which includes a generally three-year core curriculum that all students complete, which is known as Phases 1 and 2, and an individualized Phase 3 which encompasses the fourth year.

“For students who have mastered core competencies, Phase 3 options include master’s degrees, clinical immersion, intensive research, and community-based projects,” write the leaders. “Students can also graduate after the three-year core curriculum, and enter residency one year early, generally within the Hackensack Meridian Health system.”

The novel structure is working because of individualized learning programs, and in-depth advising, as well as other tools, according to the authors. Students’ needs and goals are identified, and the resources are made available when and where required, they add.

“This requires a robust team of advisors, faculty, and staff, and integrated systems,” the paper states. “Data systems and reporting are critical to the success of the program.”

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