Skip to Main Content

The Evolution of Medical Education

September 27, 2019
Photo by Christopher S. Gardner
A large classroom can be configured in various ways to accommodate different teaching and learning styles

In 2015, as part of the strategic plan for medical education, we introduced a new curriculum that has revitalized medical education at the School of Medicine. This vision has now been more fully realized with the completed renovation of space in the medical library and Harkness Hall that accommodates a variety of teaching methods and allows students in all of our educational programs to be more engaged in the learning process.

Space in the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library has been renovated to reflect today’s evolving medical education landscape and to have a broad and positive impact across our educational activities. A large team-based learning classroom, newly created rooms for small group learning and independent study, classrooms that can be reconfigured for size and seating, and a new Information Commons incorporate technology to help foster engaged, interactive learning. These facilities allow medical and PA students, instructors, and others to share information in groups large and small and learn from one another in ways that were not possible in the traditional lecture-style classrooms that were the norm for so long. Recognizing that learning takes place in a variety of ways both within and outside the classroom, they prioritize the needs of our students and reframe the way we think about medical education to include the possibility of greater engagement and interaction. Our hope is that the new space will leverage the innovative spirit of our faculty and inspire them to consider new avenues to reach our students.

Utilizing space in the library aligns perfectly with the shift from print to electronic journals that has taken place in recent years, as well as the trend for libraries to be used increasingly as community spaces. In fact, the new facilities are meant to be widely used not just for the medical education curricula. They are available to faculty, graduate students, fellows, and YSM staff for a variety of activities, as well as medical staff at Yale New Haven Hospital, who can access library content with their Epic password.

Photo by Terry Dagradi
The new Information Commons is an inviting space with an array of computers and docking stations.

If you visit the new space—which I encourage you to do—you will see a wide range of members of the medical center community utilizing the workstations in the Information Commons, reading in the lounge seating areas, or meeting in rooms equipped with large monitors and whiteboards. In the 125-seat team-based classroom, you might see several different groups of students gathered around strategically placed monitors who also share what they’re viewing on larger screens that are visible to everyone.

This vision of interactive, small group learning has also been carried out in the renovated Clinical Skills Suite located in the basement of Harkness Hall. This area has been transformed with the addition of exam rooms complete with bedside ultrasound and cameras to record clinical sessions, a lounge for standardized patients, and flexible classroom space.

These functional, inviting facilities reflect the dedication and collaboration on the part of Michael Schwartz, PhD, associate dean for curriculum; Richard Belitsky, MD, deputy dean for education; John Gallagher, MLS, director of the medical library, and many others who put much time and thought into how our space could better fulfill our educational mission. I’m delighted that our current students and faculty, as well as those who will one day join our community, will reap the benefits of their vision and foresight.

Please click here to view a slideshow of additional images.