September 4, 2007
Building’s innovative design facilitates curriculum
By sarah goodwin
The first building dedicated to medical education in the history of Emory opened to great fanfare as new and returning medical students arrived for classes.
The Emory School of Medicine Building makes possible a 15 percent increase in the size of the entering class, now totaling 133 students. The increase is designed to help alleviate the severe shortage of U.S. physicians projected by the time the students graduate in 2011.
The new building was designed in tandem with the curriculum, which teaches the fundamentals of science within clinical settings and immerses students in clinical experiences from week one.
“The new medical school curriculum is only possible due to the completion of the School of Medicine Building,” said Dean Thomas Lawley. “The innovative new curriculum integrates basic and clinical sciences, allows students to acquire clinical experience and skills through interaction with real and simulated patients, and presents medical scenarios. The new building is already vibrating with the excitement of students and faculty alike as they engage all the state-of-the-art elements for learning available to them.”
The School of Medicine incorporates three buildings, one new and two completely renovated. The center building unites mirror wings that retain the external structure — pink marble, red tile roofs — of the anatomy and physiology buildings constructed soon after the already well-established Atlanta Medical College joined Emory and moved to campus in 1915.
“The new medical school building and the new curriculum starting this year exemplify Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center vision for integrated, inter-professional care teams that provide seamless, patient-centered care and integrate new approaches to nursing, healing and public health,” said Michael M.E. Johns, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, executive vice president for health affairs and chairman of the board of Emory Healthcare. “The School of Medicine’s new curriculum delineates 21st century health professional education and training programs that reflect and inform the interdisciplinary convergence of research and clinical programs.”
The Emory Center for Experiential Learning contains high-fidelity patient simulators that allow students to acquire and hone technical skills, from intubating an airway and placing IVs and chest tubes to delivering a baby. Suites can be rearranged to simulate almost any hospital setting or medical situation.
Unprecedented learning opportunities are not just for medicine and allied health students and their counterparts in nursing and other health care professions. Emory’s continuing medical education program, already one of the largest in the country, is expected to expand in use of simulation as well.
Emphasis on learning in a simulated environment continues in the clinical exam rooms, where students conduct observed standardized clinical examinations, with actors trained to portray patients with dozens of medical conditions. Students also learn more from the human body in a new dissection facility, where each dissection table is equipped with a computer with access to the Internet, MRI and other images, study guides and lecture notes.
Auditoriums feature high-definition screens with acoustical panels and theater-style lighting to enhance faculty presentations and patient scenarios. Computer monitors are available in each lecture hall so that all presented materials can be reviewed by students as many times as needed.
The new building will also provide space that will allow for students from the School of Nursing, Physical Therapy Program and Physician’s Assistant Program to join together with medical students for an integrated learning experience. By allowing students from this interdisciplinary focus to learn and train together, an opportunity is created to work within an environment that is the “real” world.
Emory’s new curriculum begins with a whole-person approach combining clinical medicine and basic fundamentals of science, social science, humanities and public health.
“The curriculum has been several years in the making, and emphasizes active learning to create physicians who are passionate about making a difference and who appreciate the complex issues surrounding patients, families and communities,” said William Eley, executive associate dean for medical education and student affairs.
The curriculum’s first phase, Foundations of Medicine, begins with a section on the Healthy Human and concludes with one on Human Disease, with each organ system introduced via simulated or real case presentations. 18 months.
In the next Applications phase, students are immersed increasingly in clinical experiences in areas such as internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics-gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and neurology. 15 months.
In the Discovery phase, designed to enhance creativity, curiosity and leadership, students conduct research based on their individual interests. Five months is the minimum, but some will elect to spend up to one extra year in this phase.
The Translation phase includes clinical rotations in intensive care and emergency medicine, a subinternship in medicine, surgery, or pediatrics, and a “capstone” course to reinforce lessons of the previous four years and prepare the student for residency.