February 20, 2014

Two classes of medical students to learn together on wards in March and April

Beginning the week of March 10, both third-year and second-year (aka, “hybrid”) students will, for the first time, be learning together on clinical services.

Each clinical clerkship will host 1.5-2 times the number of students traditionally enrolled. This unique learning situation was created by the transition to the new School of Medicine curriculum, known as Curriculum 2.0, in which clerkships will occur during the second year.

Known informally as the “Bulge,” the period of overlap will take place in two phases: the first in March/April and then again in fall 2014. After these two overlap periods, the number of students rotating on the clinical services will return to levels similar to or slightly lower than those before Curriculum 2.0.

“Successfully navigating the Bulge will draw upon a longstanding tradition of peer mentoring at Vanderbilt,” said Kimberly Lomis, M.D., associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. “Junior students will benefit from the experience of more senior learners, and senior learners will strengthen their own understanding and demonstrate leadership in guiding the hybrid students along.”

Lomis stresses that clinical team members must remain aware that there are two levels of learners in their midst, each held to slightly different expectations.

“Junior learners will be making the adjustment to clerkship workflows, roles and expectations that normally takes place at the beginning of each academic year. For this hybrid class, that transition is happening mid-year. Our faculty and staff are adept at welcoming and incorporating our students into our care delivery teams.”

To help faculty and staff identify to which cohort a student belongs, the more advanced medical students will wear Vanderbilt lapel pins on their white coats.

Planning for the Bulge has been taking place for many months, involving department chairs, clerkship directors and other key clinical enterprise personnel.

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, shares the excitement about this unique learning opportunity, while acknowledging the potential challenges it presents for clinical services.

“We are transitioning to a learning system that will be much more effective for our students and more valuable for the clinical staff and faculty working with them. I’m most grateful to everyone for working with us to make this transition successful. The students coming to the clinics are extremely capable, and they are eager to learn from you how best to serve our patients.”