Implementing the Vision of the Strategic Plan

Dear faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends,

As Thanksgiving approaches and we at Yale School of Medicine prepare for a brief pause, I write to update you on our progress in implementing the recommendations of the Strategic Plan for Medical Education that called for the medical school to "rebuild the curriculum from the ground up" and create a Teaching and Learning Center to serve the medical school community. I plan to make this Medical Education Update a regular correspondence so I can share information and keep you informed about our activities, achievements, and innovations in medical education.

Curriculum Rebuild

The medical school is actively engaged in the building of a new curriculum, and here is an overview of our progress so far. As many of you know, the new curriculum design is complete, as depicted below:

More than 200 faculty and students have been actively involved in creating models and recommendations for the components of this new curriculum, each with important new features. For example:

  • Basic and clinical sciences: Basic and clinical science content is organized and integrated across eight sequential theme-based Master Courses and three Longitudinal Courses.
  • Longitudinal clinical experience: Students are directly involved in patient care from the beginning of medical school, with an emphasis on interprofessional education, team-based care, and knowledge of the health care system.
  • Clinical skills: Teaching and assessment of clinical skills is coordinated and integrated across the four years of the curriculum, and includes competencies in medical history and communications, physical examination, medical procedures, clinical reasoning, and professionalism.
  • Clinical clerkships: A remodeled clerkship year begins earlier in the curriculum; includes integration across disciplines; provides opportunities for greater continuity with patients, teams, and mentorship; and allows students the flexibility to explore career interests during "selectives."
  • Enhanced flexibility: The first summer and final 17 months of the curriculum are available to ensure that students have sufficient research/thesis time, opportunities to complete electives and sub-internships, study for and take required United States Medical Licensing Examinations, go on residency interviews, and participate in other experiences based on students' individual needs and choices.

Eight new Overarching Goals serve as the foundation of the new curriculum, guiding content and defining the expectations for our graduates:

  1. Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  2. Mechanisms and Treatment of Disease
  3. Clinical Reasoning
  4. Patient Care
  5. Professionalism and Communication
  6. Responsibility to Society
  7. Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge
  8. Physician as Scientist

Each goal has been thoroughly reviewed by a task force ("goal group") comprised of content experts, interested parties, and students. These groups made recommendations for content and pedagogy across the four years that are being used to guide the curriculum rebuilding process.

We are currently in the process of refining the curricular models and determining specific content. This includes creating individual learning objectives, deciding on teaching approaches, and developing assessment methods for the curricular components. I am pleased to announce that going forward, Michael Schwartz, Ph.D., in his role as associate dean for curriculum, will also be responsible for directly overseeing the rebuilding and implementation of the new curriculum.

Executive Committee

An Executive Committee, including the dean; faculty leaders representing the basic and clinical sciences, clinical medicine, and education; and students has been created to ensure that the new curriculum is of high quality and congruent with the mission of the medical school. The committee meets monthly, and information from the groups and teams building the curriculum comes to the Executive Committee for review and approval before going to the Curriculum Committee/Educational Policy Committee for final endorsement.

Membership of the Executive Committee:

  • Robert J. Alpern, M.D., dean
  • Richard Belitsky, M.D., deputy dean for education
  • Lloyd Cantley, M.D., vice chair for research, Department of Internal Medicine
  • Eve Colson, M.D., director of clerkships
  • David Greer, M.D., vice chair, Department of Neurology
  • Amy Justice, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Department of Internal Medicine
  • Richard Lifton, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Department of Genetics
  • George Lister, M.D., chair, Department of Pediatrics
  • David Schatz, M.D., professor, Department of Immunobiology
  • Michael Schwartz, Ph.D., associate dean for curriculum
  • Michael Alpert, YSM 2014
  • Risa Wong, YSM 2015


We are excited about our new curriculum, and committed to a careful and thoughtful implementation process. The various components of the curriculum and the material we are teaching must be coordinated, integrated, and appropriately sequenced. We need to be thoughtful about the teaching methods we use, and take the time to fully prepare our faculty for participation. It is also essential that we develop and implement assessment methods that give our students useful and actionable feedback about their learning and provide the school with data about the effectiveness of the new curriculum in achieving its goals.

With this in mind, we now plan to phase in some aspects of the new curriculum next year, with full implementation in the fall of 2015. I will be providing more information about this as we proceed, including timelines and other specifics.

The Teaching and Learning Center

The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) opened its doors last year, and has already had an enormous impact on medical education at YSM. The Center's mission is "to foster excellence in education through service to the learning community by providing expertise and innovation in educator development, assessment, learning technologies, and curriculum design." I am pleased to announce the appointment of Janet Hafler, Ed.D., associate dean for educational scholarship, as the director of the Teaching and Learning Center. Janet is joined by an exceptional group that includes:

  • John Encandela, Ph.D., associate director for curriculum and educator assessment
  • Michael Green, M.D., associate director for student assessment
  • Rick Haeseler, M.D., associate director for learning technology
  • Gary Leydon, associate director for technology services
  • Anna Reisman, M.D., director of the Standardized Patient Program

The TLC focuses on programs and services to support and reward the efforts of educators. This includes individual consultations for faculty and departments, direct observation of faculty teaching with peer feedback, seminars and workshops on teaching methods, assessment strategies, and use of technology.

The TLC is directly involved in building the new curriculum by providing expertise in curriculum development, pedagogy, assessment, and use of technology, as well as creating and implementing the faculty development programs, assessment methodologies, program evaluations, and learning technologies needed for the new curriculum to be successful.

There are also a variety of programs sponsored by the TLC that bring educators together to share ideas and collaborate on projects, such as the Medical Education Fellowship, Medical Education Day, and the Student Interest Group in Medical Education. The TLC is an academic home for educators here at Yale, and I encourage you to visit and to get involved.

Closing Comments

I hope you found this update useful. As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this communication or other things we are doing in medical education. You can reach me by e-mail at or by replying to this e-mail. Happy holidays to everyone.

Richard Belitsky, M.D

Richard Belitsky, M.D.
Deputy Dean for Education, Yale School of Medicine