School of Medicine turns 150

In the Emory Simulation, Training, and Robotics Center (E*STAR), a medical student is practicing angiography, carefully threading a catheter through an artery supplying the heart with blood, when the computer flashes a scene of a blood vessel rupturing. The simulator then measures the student's response to this complication.

Research has shown that surgical residents trained on simulators perform procedures faster, and are less likely to make errors, when operating on patients.

"Minimally invasive procedures, especially image-guided interventions, are changing medicine," says Assistant Professor of Surgery Anthony Gallagher. "The way to increase your proficiency is through medical simulation. This is a huge paradigm shift in medicine."

As the School of Medicine celebrates its one hundred fiftieth anniversary, these ideas are guiding medical education reform at Emory and around the country. The intent is for basic science to be melded with clinical application from day one.

"Warp-speed scientific advances are changing how medicine is practiced, and we must ask ourselves if we are adequately preparing our students for the incredible journey ahead," says Dean Thomas Lawley, who spent the last year visiting some of the nation's top medical schools.

Emory's revamped curriculum will likely demonstrate more flexibility, allowing mid-level medical students to select in-depth personalized experiences based on their interests, such as a stint in a research lab or providing medical care in a developing country.

"Our students come to us with intense curiosity and creativity, and we need to nurture those characteristics rather than sublimate them in a cookie-cutter approach to being a doctor," says Lawley.

These state-of-the-art teaching techniques will be carried out in a fitting environment—a new 116,000-square-foot medical education building, the first home on campus for Emory's medical school (above).

Construction will begin later this year on the $55-million project, which will create a medical education complex next to the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building. The complex will incorporate the renovated Anatomy and Physiology buildings (designed by original campus architect Henry Hornbostel and opened in 1917) along with the new teaching/administration building, all connected by a "Hall of Medicine" pedestrian walkway.

Set to open in 2007, the new building will be completely wireless, and will include three 160-seat auditoriums, eighteen small group classrooms, lounges for informal gatherings, and a gross anatomy lab.

Emory's medical school consistently ranks among the top medical schools in the nation in research dollars, receiving $275.8 million in National Institutes of Health funding in 2004; it was ranked 20th in the latest U.S. News and World Report ratings of the best medical schools in the country.

"Preparing the best doctors in the best way," Lawley says, "is a moral imperative."—M.J.L.



© 2005 Emory University