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10 October 2007
Emory School of Medicine Innovates with New Curriculum for the 21st Century Doctor
Emory University School of Medicine celebrates today its newly opened education building – the Emory School of Medicine Building – as new and returning medical students attend classes.

The School of Medicine's Class of 2011 will be the first to complete the entirely new medical school curriculum – one that is designed for the 21st century doctor.

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This $58.3 million building, with 160,000-square-feet of space, is the first building dedicated to medical education in the history of Emory and is one of the most state-of-the-art medical education buildings in the U.S.

The new 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 medical school curriculum is only possible due to the completion of the School of Medicine Building," says Thomas J. Lawley, MD, dean of Emory's School of Medicine. "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 new building incorporates three buildings, one new and two completely renovated. The new building in the center includes an atrium, designed as the medical school's "living room. 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 medical school moved to the Emory campus in 1915.This structure curves around a courtyard facing Emory University Hospital.

"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," says Michael M.E. Johns, MD, 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 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 Emory Center for Experiential Learning, housed in the new building, contains simulators that allow students and experienced physicians alike to acquire and hone technical skills, from basic suturing to minimally invasive surgery and other laparoscopic and robotic procedures. Sophisticated mannequins include a heart patient and a Sim-Man, able to respond to anesthesia, medications and other treatments. Four suites can be rearranged to simulate almost any hospital setting, including an operating room, or almost any medical situation, even large-scale disasters

Unprecedented learning opportunities are not just for medicine and allied health students and their counterparts in nursing and other healthcare profes sions. Emory's continuing me dical education p rogram, already one of the largest in the country, is expected to expand in this area – and in the human anatomy facilities.

Emphasis on learning in a simulated environment continues in the 16 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 th e human body in a new dissection facility. Twenty-six dissection tables each are equipped with computers with access to the Internet, MRI and other images, study guides, and lecture notes.

The new building will serve as a home for medical students. The space will also provide space that will allow for School of Nursing, Physical Therapy Program and Physician's Assistant Program students 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's the "real" world.

Almost four times the size of the historic buildings, filled with state-of-the-art technology to enhance teaching and gloriously abundant classroom space, the new School of Medicine Building made possible a 15 percent increase in the size of the entering class, to 133 students. That should help alleviate the severe U.S. physician shortage projected by the time they graduate in 2011. Another 15 percent increase in class size is possible within the decade.

"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," says J. William Eley, MD, MPH, executive associate dean for medical education and student affairs, Emory School of Medicine.

The first 18 months of the curriculum, called Foundations of Medicine, is a whole-person approach combining clinical medicine and basic fundamentals of science, social science, humanities and public health, co-taught by basic scientists and clinicians working together. It begins with a section on the Healthy Human and concludes with one on Human Disease, in which each organ system is introduced with simulated or real case presentations. Students begin acquiring clinical experience and skills from day one, beginning with a "week on the wards" rotation.

The next part of the curriculum is the Applications phase (15 months), with training in clinical areas such as internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics-gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and neurology. One-week inter-sessions prior to each block of clinical rotations will highlight basic science knowledge, clinical skills, and ethical issues related to each specialty.

An in-depth and closely-mentored mandatory Discovery phase is designed to enhance creativity, and is based on an individual student's interests related to medicine.

Five months is the minimum for this study, but some students will elect to spend up to extra year. The Translation phase includes clinical rotations in intensive care, emergency medicine, a sub-internship in medicine, surgery or pediatrics, and a unique Capstone course. Taking place during the last month of medical school, Capstone wraps up and reinforces lessons of the previous four years and prepares the medical student for residency.

An extensive Mentoring program is based on a new society system, in which each student is assigned to one of four societies and to one of the 16 advisors who serve as society advisors. These faculty members are teachers of clinical skills, small group mentors, and the student's primary link with Emory's School of Medicine and University resources as well as the resources of the rich environment in which the medical school operates.

© Emory University 2020

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