Clinical Apprenticeship puts concepts into practice
MCW’s Discovery Curriculum is providing earlier and expanded clinical education for the next generation of physicians
In the Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) Discovery Curriculum, faculty and community physicians help teach the next generation of doctors through early clinical experiences, adding to a legacy in medical education built on 120 years of history. The Discovery Curriculum encourages students to think and act like physicians from day one, and presents the opportunity through multifaceted learning modalities.
A signature feature of this dynamic model is the Clinical Apprenticeship, which provides first- and second-year medical students with weekly opportunities to interact with patients in the supervised setting of a campus or community clinic.
Alumna Dr. Irina Konon serves as preceptor for second-year medical student David Schauder in the Clinical Apprenticeship portion of the medical school’s Discovery Curriculum. David, who has a strong interest in research, is enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program, from which graduates earn both an MD and PhD.
Leading up to the apprenticeship, medical students entering the Discovery Curriculum begin their studies in the basic sciences. In parallel, they begin learning the foundations of clinical medicine in the very first week, receiving instruction in the basics of medical interviewing, physical examination, written documentation, the medical record and professional conduct required for patient care.
Students begin the year-long Clinical Apprenticeship in their second term, during which they spend one half day per week in the clinic developing core skills and interacting with patients, faculty and other health care professionals.
“The students are seeing real patients in a real clinic, and learning essential clinical skills under the supervision of their faculty mentor,” said José Franco, MD ’90, GME ’93, Fel ’95, Discovery Curriculum Director and Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology and Hepatology).
Each student is assigned a specific faculty preceptor who advises, observes and evaluates them as they perform core patient care activities and demonstrate essential skills. The one-to-one nature of the student-preceptor relationship allows for more effective mentoring through goal setting, preparation for clinic visits and review of patient encounters.
Faculty physician Irina Konon, MD ’02, GME ’05, Fel ’07, is Assistant Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology) at MCW. She practices in the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin rheumatology clinic and serves as preceptor for second-year medical student David Schauder, Class of 2016.
“I think the most valuable part of the Clinical Apprenticeship is getting comfortable interacting with a lot of patients,” said Schauder, a Dearborn, Mich., native and graduate of University of Michigan. “Before medical school, most people shadow a physician or have a volunteer experience seeing doctors interact with patients, but this is the first time where you are involved in the basics of actually being a doctor.”
Students gain experience and confidence by taking patients’ medical histories, conducting physical exams, presenting patients to their preceptor, coordinating follow-up visits, participating in patient education and consulting with families. Because the apprenticeship comprises a full year, students may build rapport with patients and encounter a wide range of situations along the continuum of care. The early clinical exposure prepares students for their third-year clerkships, when they rotate through clinics of all specialties as part of their education.
As an alumna, Dr. Konon finds contributing to MCW’s legacy of training excellent physicians especially rewarding.
“I love the teaching aspect of what I do,” she said. “As a physician, you are always educating – patients, nurses, your clinic team – but it’s particularly rewarding to teach medical students and now students early in their careers to help them with a smooth transition into the clinical world and rotations. I’ve been taught by faculty at MCW throughout my medical training and feel it’s time to give back to this school as we, as clinicians, are able.”
The Class of 2016, Schauder’s class, is the first to experience the Discovery Curriculum throughout its entire four years of medical school at MCW. The integration of basic science and clinical skills is a definite hallmark.
“The Discovery Curriculum provides significant clinical education in the first two years, enabling students to connect basic science with patient experiences,” Dr. Franco said. “Students also benefit from this additional time to learn and practice clinical skills.”
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