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A New Curriculum Begins to Take Shape

May 1, 2012
Photo by Terry Dagradi
The Teaching and Learning Center is led by Richard Belitsky, right, and associate directors Gary Leydon, seated at left, Rick Haeseler, and Janet Hafler. Photo by Terry Dagradi

Planning effort results in school-wide discussion of what to teach and how to teach it. Assessment tools, digital technologies, educator development offered at new Teaching & Learning Center.

To the School of Medicine Community,

Last year I reported on the school’s Strategic Plan for Medical Education. This set forth a vision for medical education at Yale that included significant curricular reform and the development of a Teaching and Learning Center at the medical school. I want to give you an update on progress toward these important goals.

The rebuilding of the medical school curriculum, under the direction of Deputy Dean Richard Belitsky, M.D., is now fully under way. I participated on the Curriculum Design Committee that met last spring and summer. We created a framework for the new curriculum that emphasizes early clinical experience, integrated teaching of the basic sciences and clinical medicine, and a new clerkship paradigm. The framework includes renewed flexibility for students to conduct research and explore career interests and a commitment to embedded assessment that is consistent with the Yale System of education. A steering committee with broad representation from the medical school community is now meeting regularly to oversee the rebuilding process, and each department has appointed a liaison to facilitate communication and involvement.

Dean Robert Alpern: 333 Cedar Street

333 Cedar Street is a letter from Dean Robert J. Alpern, MD, Ensign Professor of Medicine, on topics of interest to the Yale School of Medicine community. Write to Dean Alpern at

Faculty directors are responsible for constructing each component of the new curriculum. Under their leadership, a number of groups, composed of faculty, students, and alumni, are now meeting to create content based on the eight overarching goals identified during strategic planning, to determine teaching methods, and to develop assessment tools. A Curriculum Rebuild website is under development to keep our medical school community updated on our progress.

I am also delighted to report the establishment of the new Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) at the School of Medicine. This fulfills a specific recommendation of the Strategic Plan that we “create a Teaching and Learning Center with dedicated resources, education experts and a clear mission to promote excellence in medical education.” The TLC is located on the second floor of Harkness Building A. Richard Belitsky directs the TLC, and three talented individuals have been recruited to serve as associate directors: Janet Hafler, Ed.D., Rick Haeseler, M.D., and Gary Leydon, B.S., who bring expertise in educator development, curriculum design, pedagogy, and learning technologies. Recruitment of a fourth associate director, with special expertise in assessment, is currently under way.

The TLC is committed to supporting and promoting the work of our faculty in their teaching and other important educational roles. It offers a variety of programs and services, including individual consultation, faculty development workshops, medical education conferences and seminars, peer observation of teaching, standardized patients for teaching and assessment of clinical skills, and the development of instructional websites and other digital technologies to support education. The TLC will also of course play an integral role in the rebuilding of our new medical school curriculum.

I invite you to visit the center’s new website at to learn more and, if appropriate, to take advantage of the resources and services it provides.


Robert J. Alpern, M.D.
Dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine