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October 7, 2011 - Medical Education Leadership Team Appointed
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine has embarked on a comprehensive project of curriculum renewal for its undergraduate medical education program leading to the M.D. degree. Change is fueled by the challenge in modern medical education of how best to move the matriculating medical student along the pathway to becoming a competent physician and life-long learner.

The Curriculum Committee began the process last May with a reframing of the educational objectives of the College of Medicine around the six core competencies of medical practice endorsed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. These competencies encompass patient care, medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, and systems-based practice.

Beginning in 2012, students entering the USA College of Medicine will receive instruction in all competencies from the beginning of their educational experience. Milestones of achievement toward competency will be assessed and documented throughout the four-year continuum leading to graduation.

Further transforming the new curriculum is the adoption of an organ system-based sequence of study serving as the centerpiece of the educational program during the pre-clerkship years one and two. Entering students progress through a two-year sequence of modules, each devoted to an organ system incorporating the six core competencies of training as well as an integrated multidisciplinary program of instruction in the basic sciences.

To develop and implement the new curriculum, a division of medical education has been established within the College of Medicine. To lead the division, four administrative positions have been created to spearhead and facilitate the Curriculum Committee’s role as the central curriculum authority within the College. USA faculty members appointed to these positions have received numerous teaching awards and are highly respected by students and fellow faculty as dedicated medical educators. They possess the leadership and vision needed to guide the renewal process toward success.

Susan LeDoux, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of cell biology and neuroscience, will now serve as associate dean for medical education. Dr. LeDoux joined the faculty in 1988. She has been actively involved in the curriculum effort within the College of Medicine for the past 15 years through her efforts as course director for medical gross anatomy, Curriculum Committee chair and assistant dean for curriculum. Currently, she also is a member of the Physiology and Cell Biology Item Writing Committee for the National Board of Medical Examiners. Her responsibilities will now focus on the overall design and implementation of the undergraduate medical educational program in accordance with national accreditation standards.

Benjamin Estrada, M.D., professor and vice chair of pediatrics, will serve as assistant dean for educational strategies and faculty development. Dr. Estrada joined the faculty in 1996. He currently chairs the Curriculum Committee and serves as clerkship director in pediatrics. Dr. Estrada received the Mitchell Clinical Scholar Award for his contributions in the development of electronic teaching tools in pediatrics. His duties will focus on the design and implementation of contemporary teaching methods and requisite faculty training for the new curriculum.

Anthony Gard, Ph.D., professor of cell biology and neuroscience, will serve as assistant dean for curriculum assessment and evaluation. Dr. Gard joined the faculty at USA in 1990. He piloted the first organ system-based course taught in the College – medical neuroscience, which he has directed since 2005. Consistently high USMLE Step 1 subscores achieved in neuroscience attest to the performance capability of USA medical students fully engaged in the new systems-based curriculum.

Dr. Gard will oversee programs for development of testing and student self-assessment, serving as the College’s liaison to the National Board of Medical Examiners, and evaluation of program effectiveness.

Jeffrey Sosnowski, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology, will serve as assistant dean for curriculum integration. Dr. Sosnowski joined the faculty in 2005. He has successfully directed the medical pathology course and co-directed medical neuroscience. Dr. Sosnowski’s teaching expertise is internationally recognized. He was one of the first lecturers for the Falcon USMLE Review Course and has also taught in the Kaplan Board Review series. He will chair the Curriculum Integration Subcommittee of the Curriculum Committee and assist the associate dean of medical education in the design and implementation of the integrated systems-based curriculum.

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