Curriculum transformation: Six ways to have your voice heard

Written by Jeff Kraakevik, M.D.

I have had the privilege to work with the curriculum transformation committee for the OHSU School of Medicine for the last few months. The group has a variety of viewpoints represented at the table, and we have had some very lively and thought-provoking discussions on how the medical curriculum can best prepare students to be the physicians of the early twenty-first century (we can leave the 24 1/2th century to Duck Dodgers).

As you can imagine, there is varied opinion on what the knowledge base of that future physician will need to look like, and also on what skills will be necessary to be able to deliver competent and compassionate care to patients. With diverse views on where we will end up, there is varied opinion on what methods and techniques and strategies to use to get to that end product. To me this is part of the excitement and fun of designing a curriculum.

There are several key ideals which bring this group together during the process. As the landscape of medical education and medical care is changing, we must adapt to keep up with these changes. We are all committed to creating an excellent place to train medical students where faculty and staff from diverse groups at OHSU work together in an environment that fosters excellence. These are just a few of the overarching ideas we think should guide the transformation process.

One key idea the committee members agreed to unanimously is that neither the final direction of the curriculum, nor the implementation of the new curriculum can possibly be accomplished by the nine members of the committee. I view our role as listening to all of the members of our community to collate the best ideas and advice into a coherent framework upon which to build the final curriculum which we will all work together to bring to reality. 

This is where you come in to the picture. As a person reading this blog, you have already identified yourself as someone with an interest in our curriculum. We want to hear from you! We will do our best to communicate clearly where our team is at, and we want you to clearly communicate to us what you think. Here are the places you can find us:

  1. This blog. Those in the Portland and Oregon community can discuss topics here on this blog with my monthly posts.
  2. EdNews (internal log-in required),  a home for blogs about the education mission of OHSU.  This is an internal blog for those within the OHSU community and will have regular posts from the curriculum transformation committee and sub-committees.
  3. OHSU Curriculum Transformation Facebook group.  Another spot for internal communication among those in the OHSU community.  To join, follow the hyperlink, and then click the “join” button at the top right.  You will need to wait for our team to add you to the group by verifying that you do work at OHSU.
  4. OHSU retreat October 9 (internal log-in required).  This school-wide retreat will kick-off the process by giving an overview of preliminary work done, and brainstorming on directions to go.
  5. Talk to the committee members. We will be touring grand rounds and faculty meetings this fall, so catch one of us at a meeting in your department.
  6. OHSU School of Medicine Alumni LinkedIn group.  I just joined the group, so you can contact me through that forum also.

In short, you have lots of ways to let us know what you think. So get started today by leaving a comment below, or getting involved in one of the other groups outlined above.

Our goal is to take OHSU School of Medicine’s fantastic current curriculum and make it more better (a favorite term of one of my mentors in residency).  We can only accomplish this with your help, so get involved, and be heard!



Jeff Kraakevik, M.D., earned his medical degree from the University of Iowa and his fellowship in Movement Disorders from Oregon Health & Science University. He joined the OHSU movement disorders faculty in 2006 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Neurology. Dr. Kraakevik holds the unique distinction of being a former high school teacher. He has followed this trajectory of educator and currently heads up the development of medical student and resident education for the OHSU department of Neurology and VA Medical Center where he holds a joint appointment. Dr. Kraakevik’s research interests include gait and balance problems of Parkinson’s disease as well as research that explores the best teaching practices for medical education.

You can also follow him on Twitter and at his neurology education blog.

4 responses to “Curriculum transformation: Six ways to have your voice heard

  1. I read a lot of articles about doctors not receiving enough nutrition education, and not feeling comfortable providing nutrition education. I am not opposed to them getting more nutrition education. However, I think more information about other disciplines and how to refer patients to them is in order.

    I am a registered dietitian, and a part of our education was understanding what it takes to have a career as a nurse, therapist, or doctor (etc.). A focus in our internship training was knowing when something is outside of our scope of practice and referring a patient to the right practicioner who can better assist them.

    I love it when doctors are interested in nutrition, but I’m happy to be a part of a multidisciplinary team where all members respect and understand what each other can offer.

  2. I would love to attend the retreat, but the date of it happens to fall on a full day of classes 2 days prior to an exam. Not a wise use of time for a second year medical student. It would be great if there could be a keeper of minutes, or at least a summary of the preliminary work and brainstorming,

  3. Krista- Thanks for your thoughtful comment. We have already spent a good deal of time discussing the importance of interprofessional education, and it indeed is on our guiding principles as a bullet-point under #2 Curriculum design. We want our students to be well-prepared to work in healthcare teams with dieticians, nurses, rehabilitation specialists, pharmacists, dentists, and any other healthcare worker. We’d love to hear your ideas!

    Mario – Great to hear you’re excited about this. We really need the medical students to help us with this process. The retreat agenda will be put up soon, and you can attend portions of it if you can’t make it to the whole day.

    Also, watch the EdNews blog shortly after the meeting as there will be summaries of what was accomplished. We haven’t worked anything out yet, but I’d like to see if we can get video of the presentations posted for internal OHSU viewing as well.

  4. I’m just seeing this now and I hope it’s not too late to add some comments.

    My thoughts reflect those of Krista’s comments I noticed above; As an Occupational Therapist, I often receive orders from residents who often do not know which therapy service to order, and furthermore, which therapy does what (Occupational, Physical or Speech Therapy). I’ve redeived a few interesting orders in my career, one notalbe one was “OT to see patient for denture fitting.”

    It would be nice to ‘onboard’ the residents and teach them about the specific allied healthcare professions, and what each profession brings to the table in the treatment of their patients. This could increase efficiency, decrease confusion about which service to order, and assist the therapists who often have to page to clarify confusing orders and explain what a therapist does (or doesn’t!) do.

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