Putting it all together in Med-4

When the Medicine Class of 2017 arrived for Orientation three years ago, they learned that they were to be pioneers: the first cohort to experience the new MDCM curriculum, Patient at heart, Science in hand, the result of one of the most significant curricular reviews in the Faculty’s 187-year history.

They were our first Med-1s to benefit from clinical exposure from day one, to contemplate the root, societal causes of illness from their first Block, and to experience a more direct link between the basic sciences and their clinical work. Their first three years also saw the introduction into the core curriculum of our first formal medical student wellness and resilience program, a community-service component highlighting the special needs of vulnerable populations, and extended clerkship courses over 16 rather than 8 weeks.

Throughout, the Class of 2017 has been the first to propose ways to make the new program—which has received an outpouring of philanthropic support from our MDCM alumni—even stronger. “There were a few hiccups,” says Med-4 Gordon Hua, adding that many of these hiccups have been or are in the process of being sorted out—good news for all, including students in lower years.

“I’m grateful our Faculty sought our input and acted on our recommendations,” says classmate Marie-Pier Bastrash, who is proud to belong to this trailblazing group.

But what awaits Hua, Bastrash and their peers, in this, their final year?

To find out, Medicine Focus spoke to faculty members Beth-Ann Cummings, MDCM’03, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education, and Terry Hébert, Professor, Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

For her part, Cummings cites the newly developed Public Health and Preventive Medicine Clerkship Course: “It will allow our students to understand how the principles of prevention and health advocacy are relevant to clinical practice in all medical disciplines.”

She also points to the new Transition to Residency Course, which is designed to help students make the leap to post-graduate training, with topics ranging from medical ethics and the law to advanced communication skills and wellness.

According to Hébert, one new course, Putting it All Together (PIAT), comprises Basic Science, Medicine and Society, with a week of Basic Science and Social Studies of Medicine Consolidation teaching and three weeks of elective Science and Social Studies of Medicine Selective Seminars. The goal: to ensure students have a clear grasp of evidence-based medicine, modern biomedical sciences and translational medicine before the start of residency.

“As students will have already completed their clinical clerkship courses, this is an excellent opportunity to remind them of basic science principles and relate these to the clinical setting,” says Hébert.

Basic Science, Medicine and Society will also provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the complex nature of clinical judgement, which, Hébert explains, extends beyond the “encounter of doctor and patient” to include “families, cultures, political actors, the law, institutions, researchers and even journalists.”

This, says Hébert, “reinforces the notion that both the scientific and social components of medicine require an attitude of lifelong learning.”

What do the students think?

“I believe our excellent training will serve us well as we transition from medical students to resident physicians,” says Nebras Warsi, BSc, candidate of the Medicine Class of 2017 and VP Medical Education for the Canadian Federation of Medical Students.

“I’m very much looking forward to Med-4,” says Jennifer He, cofounder of Faces at McGill Medicine (FAMM), who, as a candidate of the Class of 2018, still has one more year to wait.

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