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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACT: Lisa Freed
561-297-3022, lfreed@fau.edu

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine at FAU Initiates New Medical Curriculum for First-Year Students

Grant from AAMC and the Josiah Macy Foundation Supports New Curriculum that Focuses on Chronic Illness and Care

                BOCA RATON, FL (July 31, 2007) – The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (UMMSM) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) will initiate its new four year  medical curriculum for the upcoming fall semester when it welcomes its first-year students in August.  With support from a grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Josiah Macy Foundation, one of the major areas of focus of the UMMSM at FAU curriculum will be the care of patients with chronic diseases in ambulatory settings. This focus on chronic illness is critical to better prepare tomorrow’s physicians to care for the chronically ill patients who constitute a growing percentage of most physicians’ practices and who receive treatment in community-based, out-patient settings, rather than in hospitals, where most clinical medical education has traditionally been located.   

The UMMSM at FAU is one of 10 U.S. medical schools, including Vanderbilt University and UCLA, to receive the grant.  These grants will be used to redesign medical school curricula and residency training programs to incorporate a contemporary approach to understanding and treating chronic illnesses.  The initial $125,000 grant was used to assist in the design of the new four-year UMMSM at FAU regional medical campus curriculum. Another $50,000 grant has been approved for second-year implementation funding, which will be used to finalize planning for regional campus clinical clerkships to incorporate a contemporary approach to understanding and treating chronic diseases.

“Being selected for this highly competitive grant is indicative of the growing national recognition of the FAU regional medical campus as a place where exciting innovations in medical education and residency training are being designed,” said Michael L. Friedland, M.D., regional dean of the UMMSM at FAU.  “As a result of this grant, we are better equipped to teach tomorrow’s doctors about chronic illness, so they can provide the best care for their future patients.”

The new four-year medical program engages students in early and intensive exposure to patients via the practices of community physicians who will serve as preceptors for the regional medical campus and weekly visits to the Florida Department of Health. Medical students will be assigned a panel of patients to follow over the course of their four years of medical school. In addition to community physician preceptors, each student will be assigned to a clinician faculty mentor who will work collaboratively with them.  The required coursework will be arranged to allow students extended opportunities to pursue specialized areas of study and dual degrees, including a master’s degree in public health or business administration, or certificates of achievement in biomedical research.

The new medical curriculum also differs from more traditional medical school programs by providing a smaller, more personal and more interactive learning environment organized around communities of approximately eight students who share and learn from each others’ patients and clinical experience.   It is hoped that this type of environment will foster graduates’ ability to function as effective and collaborative members of  the teams of  physicians and other health care professionals who provide  much of the care to chronically ill patients.  

“The new curriculum will improve both the quality and level of care to patients,” said Daniel Lichtstein, M.D., associate dean for medical education at the UMMSM at FAU.  “The benefit of introducing students to their medical education in this manner allows them to understand that there is much more to being a physician than the learning of basic science and medical facts.”

The grant has also been used to support the development of a chronic illness and care component to be integrated into the proposed internal medicine residency program at JFK Medical Center and the West Palm Beach V.A. Medical Center.  This residency program, scheduled for review by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in September, will be the first allopathic residency program in Palm Beach County. New residency programs will support the medical education mission of UMMSM at FAU and will enable medical students to remain in the region for residency training.

                The Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation was founded in 1930 by Kate Macy Ladd, in memory of her father, who died at a young age.  Since the mid-1960’s, the Foundation has focused its resources specifically on improving the education of health professionals, particularly physicians.

                For more information, contact Vicki Katz, director of development for the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, at 561-297-1139 or vkatz1@fau.edu.

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