Curriculum Team Develops New Course for M3s Amid Pandemic

Thanks to quick thinking and collaborative efforts by faculty and staff of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, a new course was developed to alleviate some of the disruption to the medical student curriculum for third-year students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A team of medical education faculty and staff – John Ragsdale, MD, assistant dean for clinical education; curriculum and assessment management director Helen Garces; clerkship development coordinator Amy Murphy; and Chris Feddock, MD, former senior associate dean for medical student education – coordinated the development of an elective that will count as one of the five required for these students in their fourth year.

The new elective, called “Navigating Complex Issues in Healthcare Delivery,” has been conducted online to help deepen students’ understanding of healthcare systems and how providing care can be better optimized at the patient level and for populations. This course addresses challenges they will face as health care providers, like substance use and controlling pain.

“We wanted to ensure that even through these unprecedented circumstances, our learners were still offered meaningful experiences in their third year so they could sufficiently prepare for their upcoming fourth-year rotations and then residency,” Dr. Ragsdale said. “So while we had to pause the third-year clinical curriculum, we wanted to give these students a jump start on fourth-year work so they could stay on schedule as much as possible.”

The course, which will be graded as pass/fail, will run through June 26 with no in-person requirements. Students are to complete a series of online modules and write a paper about a learning activity, with items uploaded to Canvas.

“It was absolutely amazing that our team was able to put this high-quality course together, have it approved, create a syllabus, and gather the resources in the span of a few short days,” Charles Griffith, MD, vice dean for education, said. “I cherish my curriculum team for going above and beyond in these times of crisis to ensure our students can stay on track to follow their dreams of becoming physicians.”

By the end of the course, students will be able to describe the effect of a pandemic on a healthcare system; incorporate organizational, financial, and systematic factors into clinical decision-making for effective, efficient, patient-centered care; identify barriers to safe and appropriate care and offer solutions; identify their own strengths and limitations; and develop a plan for improvement of their knowledge based on reflection.