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School of Medicine





Dreaming big
any of us have had a favorite automobile. It’s got a few dings, but the paint job is holding. With regular oil changes and tuneups, it’s running fine. Still, there are 100,000 miles on the odometer, and soon we’ll have to part with it.
     The curriculum at Emory University School of Medicine has something in common with that beloved car. It has served us well, preparing our students to ace the national boards and be offered plum residencies throughout the country. It and others like it have been the blueprint for training the most preeminent physicians and scientists of the late 20th century. However, we’ve gotten the maximum mileage out of the current curriculum. To educate physicians through the first half of the 21st century, we need a new vehicle for teaching our medical students, one that is robust, compelling, and flexible.
     We aren’t alone in undertaking these revisions. Between 15 and 20 medical schools in our country are examining how and what to teach medical students to prepare them for the demands of modern medicine. At Emory, we have a chance to be a leader in this effort, and I predict that our revolutionary curriculum will be a model for the nation.
     Our curriculum strategic planning committee, advised by Jack Shulman and co-chaired by Stephen Warren and Carlos del Rio, is composed of members from throughout the basic sciences and clinical faculty, medical students and residents, medical alumni, and colleagues from the schools of Nursing and Public Health and Emory College. The initial report is due in August, but already the committee is working to create a curriculum that reflects student-centered learning.
     This curriculum also will emphasize flexibility. 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 making a doctor.
     But to fully implement this new curriculum, we need a new facility. Our new medical education building will be the first home on campus for Emory’s medical school. An entirely wireless facility, it will feature advanced technology classrooms and a variety of teaching and study spaces.
     Teaching is a resource-intensive task. Currently, training a physician costs between $60,000 and $90,000 a year, and the School of Medicine pays for one-third to one-half of that tab. Still, we are undeterred. In fact, as you’ll see in this issue of Emory Medicine, we are redoubling our efforts for teaching medical students. Training the next generation of physicians is not only our highest priority but also our moral imperative. We want the finest graduates in the world because, if we aim lower, we have not fulfilled our pact with society. These are the people who will be taking care of you and your children. They are the ones in the driver’s seat in the future.
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