From the ground up; designing and implementing a medical undergraduate curriculum in mid-flight

Professor John Henderson, Bristol Medical School

Wednesday 10 October
201, Skempton Building
South Kensington Campus

In 2014, the University of Bristol conducted a review of Biomedicine with three strands; Research strategy, Faculty structure and Undergraduate Curriculum review. The last of these was initiated with a target for initiation of a revised MB, ChB curriculum of September 2017. By many metrics, Bristol had a successful medical degree programme; its graduates were successful in postgraduate medical examinations and in specialty recruitment rounds. Therefore, there was temptation not to “fix what ain’t broke,” especially given the timeline that had been imposed on the project from the outset.

However, it was recognised that medical knowledge was changing rapidly, the role of a doctor was evolving, and population demographic changes were bringing about major challenges for the profession. Bristol Medical School had not undergone a comprehensive curriculum review for over 20 years and the curriculum had become crowded by the need to assimilate new knowledge and understanding without critically reviewing what might be removed to make way for these priorities.  Therefore, following a strengths, relevance and issues review of the extant MB ChB curriculum, a decision was taken to conduct a wholesale review of the content and teaching methods.

I will present the methodology that we employed to attempt to create a curriculum that was fit for educating doctors that would practise medicine in the 21st Century in a rapidly evolving health and social care environment and with cognizance of the impacts of medical and technological advances on patient care now and in the future. I will describe the journey that was undertaken to create an integrated medical curriculum that blends learning about biomedical science, clinical competency and decision making and medical humanities delivered through small-group, student-centred learning, the challenges of introducing a revised curriculum that was still in development alongside delivery of an existing programme, and how we conquered the inevitable scepticism that greeted the change. The process has been described as designing and building an aircraft after it has taken flight (while being shot at from the ground).

Watch Professor John Henderson's lecture on Panopto