The Mayo Medical School (MMS) curriculum debuted in July 2006 as a historic and deliberate move to fully prepare students for the challenges of 21st century medicine.
At a glance, the MMS curriculum is committed to:
- Active and cooperative learning styles, supported by a pass/fail evaluation system in Years 1 and 2 that encourages collaboration by eliminating competition for grades.
- A focus on patient care and clinical experiences that broaden and deepen classroom learning.
- Core competencies united by 4 themes:
- Basic science
- Improving the public's health
- Clinical experiences
- Pharmaceuticals and therapeutics
- Course lectures are thematically integrated with clinic rotations. Morning lecture topics are revisited in the afternoon in patient care clinics on the same topic.
- Humane, healthy, flexible schedules allow for effective learning that leads to enduring understanding: Students need repeated exposure to ideas and to reflect on new information; to seek and receive remedial support when necessary; to rest their bodies and renew their energy, optimism and imaginations through downtime, that includes recreation, community service, social outings and sleep!
- Continuous improvement, assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of our curriculum through multiple feedback systems.
- At MMS, our physician-faculty members are uniquely skilled — due to Mayo's historic interdisciplinary collaborative model — to help students succeed in managing complexity on this scale.
- Study one topic at a time, for three to seven weeks. This is known as a subject "block." In the first year, students take a series of seven blocks. The blocks address three fundamental themes: basic structure, basic functions, basic principles. For example, Block 1 is Orientation and Improving the Public's Health; Block 2 is Basic Structure, taught through molecular biology, basic gene expression, basic cell structure, and microscopic anatomy. In the second year, students take a series of seven blocks that address three more themes: organ systems, pathophysiology, diagnostics and therapeutics. Morning sessions of the block are thematically reinforced in the afternoon during clinical integration sessions with patients, small groups of students, or in facilitated sessions with faculty members.
- Each block is separated by a flexible one- to two-week-long academic enrichment period known as a "selective." Twelve weeks of selectives are vacation periods which include the winter holiday and summer break. The other weeks are broken into short courses that allow for career exploration or specialty enrichment experiences such as time in a research lab or in community service. Students and faculty may design selectives. A limited number of selectives are required such as the CTSA (Center for Translational Science Activities) which occurs late in the 1st year during the selective period between blocks 6 and 7.
- Didactic sessions consist of short overview lectures (20 to 30 minutes long) followed by faculty-led small group discussions or lab exercises. Tighter focus on essential concepts leads to deeper student engagement, robust attention spans and higher aptitudes for learning.
- Experience more time in the clinic with patients; less time in lectures and lab. So-called "seat time" spent in classroom lectures has been reduced from an average of 36 hours a week to an average of about 20 hours a week. This reduction increases time for group learning, collaborative projects, reflection, and clinical immersion. This is a significant break with the past. By reducing seat time, MMS is encouraging students to take the initiative in learning; to know and master individual learning styles; to be thoughtful and attentive to self-care, in addition to patient care. Our goal is to nurture extraordinarily successful lifelong learners who are happy, healthful, expert and adaptable physicians.
- Improving the Public's Health theme emphasizes awareness of healthcare needs of patients and their communities and importance of developing more effective means of delivering compassionate, high quality, and effective care. The cornerstone of this theme is the Rochester Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH) experience. This is a 2-year program where students partner with community organizations in the first year and staff a free clinic under Mayo consultant supervision in the second year, to put what is learned in the classroom about improving the public's health into practice.
- Embrace clinical immersion by taking full advantage of the 500,000 patients a year who seek care at the Mayo Clinic. MMS has the highest ratio of patients to medical students anywhere in the world - 500,000 patients to 50 students - and clinical experiences are therefore abundant and easily available. If cardiac function is the morning classroom topic, Mayo Clinic's cardiology clinic is the afternoon clinical integration venue.
At Mayo Clinic, we believe our students' energy, empathy, idealism, compassion, creativity and intellectual achievements are one of our greatest assets. We are deeply committed to ensuring that they build a solid foundation on which to improve health care throughout their careers.