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27-01-2021 | Failures/Surprises | Uitgave 3/2021 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 3/2021

What we learned in the development of a third-year medical student curricular project

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 3/2021
Maria Syl D de la Cruz, Rashida S. Smith, Alexis E. Silverio, Allison R. Casola, Erin L. Kelly
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Supplementary Information

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s40037-021-00648-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the HHS, or the U.S. Government.


The application of continuous systems improvement in medical education can provide actionable information for curriculum development, improvement, and future planning (as reported by Bowe and Armstrong, Acad Med 92:585–92, 2017). After receiving a medical education grant, we developed a curriculum to teach medical students how to use quality improvement (QI) to address health disparities in vulnerable populations. During the process of developing and implementing this curriculum, we learned several lessons.
One of the major surprises was that our proposed project work took much longer to complete than anticipated. This was mainly because we did not have the right team assembled from the beginning. Specifically, we were missing a team member with evaluation expertise, and therefore we did not devise a systematic process for evaluation and assessment. Without periodic checks or timely assessments built into our curriculum design, we received feedback from students after it was too late to implement changes. We realized that our initial research design had some methodological flaws, which we later rectified.
We encountered additional technical challenges during the curriculum implementation. We struggled with various online learning platforms. Through this, we learned the importance of being knowledgeable upfront about the features of learning platforms and adaptable to changing educational technologies. We also learned our curriculum could and should evolve to meet the needs of our learners and faculty. Moving forward, we realize the benefit of applying a quality improvement process to our curriculum development and implementation, which will help us to continuously transform medical education for future health care needs.
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