Strategic planning for curriculum moves forward

At the AYAM’s executive board meeting in February, Richard Belitsky, M.D., Deputy Dean for Education, described the latest—and upcoming—steps as the school implements a new curriculum, while preserving the Yale system.

Also in this issue: 
  • Improving communications with alumni 
  • Alumni events around the country

Dear Fellow Alumni, 

At our February meeting, the Executive Committee of the Association of Yale Alumni in Medicine heard from Dean Alpern on activities at the Yale School of Medicine, and Deputy Dean Belitsky brought us up to date on the curriculum redesign process. We also continued last fall’s conversations about the future of the AYAM and new projects or initiatives that our membership might explore. Recurring themes continue to be increasing interactions between alumni and students, improving dissemination of school news to alumni, and facilitating more alumni connections outside of New Haven. Anyone interested in being involved in or sharing ideas about programming and outreach can contact me or the Alumni Office staff. A small group of executive committee members will meet in the months ahead to chart an initial direction for new programming.

A provocative, yet reassuring, discussion

Recent meetings with alumni and faculty have reinforced my view that the School of Medicine remains a vibrant and evolving institution, one that is keeping pace with new technologies and methodologies in education. Dr. Belitsky’s presentation was both provocative and reassuring. I was relieved to hear that, while the new curriculum marks a bold departure from the model of medical education that has prevailed over the last 100 years, it will retain those values that made YSM special and unique when we were students. Tomorrow’s students will continue to enjoy the flexibility to make choices about their medical education, and Dr. Belitsky appreciates that mentoring and collegial student-teacher relations are at the heart of the Yale system. He clearly intends to build a curriculum that is innovative and advanced yet retains cherished principles. 

Judging from Dr. Belitsky’s comments, we are half-way through a four-year process that seeks broad input, involves thoughtful discussion, and offers transparent reporting. Students can offer input via “fireside chats,” alumni have participated in focus groups, and I was delighted to learn that the alumni and students have a voice on the Curriculum Rebuild Steering Committee. I am confident that Dr. Belitsky will keep us informed along the way. 

He reminded us that, as the school crafts a new curriculum, it must also elevate the status of teaching. Faculty must be able to grow as teachers, tap into the best thinking about medical education, and know that the school values excellence in teaching when it comes time for reappointments and promotions. To this end, the Office of Education has opened the Teaching and Learning Center, which will focus on assessment methodology and interpretation of evaluation data in student learning, the effectiveness of the curriculum, and the quality of teaching. With offices in Harkness Building A, adjoining Harkness Hall, the Center has already hired experts in educator development, learning technologies, and educational technology services, and a national search is underway for an expert in learning and assessment.

Redesigned Alumni and Friends web site

As an initial step in improving communication with and about our alumni, the YSM Alumni and Friends website ( has been redesigned. Information is now easier to find, under categories that include “Boards and Volunteers,” “Giving,” “Events,” “Stay Connected,” “FAQ,” and “News and Publications.” Click through to find a calendar of upcoming events, submit alumni notes to Yale Medicine, follow links to class Facebook groups, or have quick access to recent publications or news stories about YSM or our alumni family members. We welcome your feedback and look forward to further improvements.

Yale faculty around the country

YSM faculty have been on the road, sharing news and updates from campus with local Yale alumni clubs. The Yale Club of San Francisco welcomed Robert Udelsman, M.D., chair of surgery in October. Thomas Lynch, M.D., director of Yale Cancer Center and Physician-in-Chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, visited recently with alumni in Vero Beach, Florida, and New York City. Alumni in Houston can look forward to a visit with Roy Herbst, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of Medical Oncology and Associate Director for Translational Research, at the end of March, and a panel on women’s health is in the planning stages around the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago in June. 2012 Reunion classes will soon be receiving reunion weekend information for June 1-3, and we look forward to welcoming those classes back on campus to reconnect with one another and Yale. More information on these and other alumni activities is on our web site at

I welcome the active participation of alumni, whether on campus in New Haven, in your own hometown, or online in our virtual communities. If you have feedback or ideas about our initiatives or would like to become more involved, please be in touch with me at Our association is only as robust as our members make it, and combining our efforts and interests can make us a very lively and powerful community. 


Christine A. Walsh, M.D. ’73

This bulletin is distributed electronically, via email and the web, to graduates of the School of Medicine. If you did not receive this email directly, we invite you to update your contact information at