Minutes 10.13.05

Minutes 10.13.05

University of Virginia School of  Medicine
Curriculum Committee

Surgery Conference Room, 4:00 p.m.                       

Present (underlined) were: Reid Adams, Gretchen Arnold, Eve BargmannDaniel Becker, Robert BloodgoodGene Corbett, John Gazewood, Jennifer Harvey, Donald Innes (Chair),  Howard Kutchai, Marcus Martin, Chris Peterson, Jerry Short, Bill Wilson,  Anthony DeBenedet, Sixtine ValdelievreDebra Reed (secretary) 

Cells to Society. (Chris Peterson)  Chris Peterson updated the Committee on the Cells to Society Program.

The Program Focuses on and connects the patient to all other aspects of the Foundations of Medicine curriculum.  It is intended to inspire and motivate students to learn the knowledge, skills, and values needed for the practice of scientific clinical medicine.


  • Demonstrate to first year medical students how the care of a patient raises questions across multiple domains in addition to clinical medicine, especially:
  • Biomedical science
  • Society
  • Culture
  • Economics

      Course Objectives:

  • Introduce the UVa SOM “Competencies Required of the Contemporary Physician”
  • Introduce important learning experiences
  • Patient interaction
  • Small group work
  • Case-based study
  • Self-directed learning
  • Self-reflection
  • Consultation with experts

Student Objectives:
After participating, the 1st year medical student will be able to:

  • Explain to peers at least one significant feature of the disease studied in each of several areas: Clinical, “Cells”, “Society”.
  • Explain to peers at least one way in which a clinical feature relates to a “Cells” feature and a “Society” feature.

Cells to Society Schedule August 10-12, 2005




Intro and patient interview
Epidemiology,pathophysiology, and natural history

Field trips
Team learning

Stem Cell lecture
“Ostrich” lecture
Expert panel
Dean’s wrap-up

Resource Fair
Small groups (with pt. interview)
Library intro

Team learning
Small groups


Cells to Society: Evaluation

Both students and faculty were asked to submit course evaluations.   Students were asked  qualitative, experiental, and narrative questions.   Today’s focus is on the student evaluations. 

Students responses:

What grade would you give this course?    


(n = 109)

(n = 128)











3.43 + 0.64

3.54 + 0.53

Was it helpful to start medical school with a broad introduction to a medical topic?

      Yes = 127 (99%)               No = 1 (1%)

Comments included:

  • It helped me ease back into the learning environment, get excited about the future, and introduce me to the resources available to me over the next four years.
  • The course got me thinking about all the different things I would have to master to become a great physician.  I was surprised.  I didn’t think it would have this effect on me.

Was it helpful to start medical school with a broad introduction to a medical topic?

  •  A great way to pull a student into the community of medicine.
  •  It allowed me to see just how many issues one disease can raise in the life of the patient, as well as how many biomedical science issues are brought up.
  •  It was terrific to participate in a group patient interview on the first day.
  •  I was very nervous about starting medical school, but this course helped me to remember exactly why I wanted to become a physician in the first place, and helped to transition my nervousness to excitement

What did you learn about yourself?

  • Most specified school-related issues Knowledge base
  • Need to acquire skills
  • New interest, esp. in “society”
  • Application to own lifestyle
  • Personal quality comparison to classmates
  • Confirmation of desire to become a doctor
  • Reassurance that “big picture” needn’t be set aside for two years
  • “Nothing”   n = 21

What did you learn about the faculty?

Praise for:


welcoming attitude
devotion to teaching
comfort with still being learners
genuine interest in students
“dedication to humanitarian ideals”

What did you learn about your classmates?

  • Diversity of background
  • Similarity of characteristics and goals
  • Search for cohesion and group identity

Resource Fair – [Some students confused this with the “Activities Fair”]

  • Excellent, good, interesting, useful, exciting, helpful: 55
  • Poorly organized, too crowded, too many students: 12
  • OK, somewhat useful, not sure: 5
  • Not very useful: 5

Comments included: 

  • “Excellent. A really low-key way to learn a lot from a variety of experts and activists. This was one of my favorite aspects of the course.”
      “The Resource Fair was interesting and a nice break from lecture, as it allowed us to get up and stretch our legs and communicate 1 on 1 with different interest group speakers.”
  • “I did not understand the purpose of the resource fair, Though it did help to educate me about certain aspects of diabetes it otherwise seemed irrelevant. If its sole reason was to educate about diabetes then it was good.”
  • “Very interesting albeit somewhat disorganized. I walked up to several booths only to arrive midway through an explanation or demonstration.”

Field trips:

Mildly to wildly positive: 89

  • New resources
  • Relevance

Mildly negative to very negative: 26

  • Ill-prepared hosts
  • Logistics

Comments on the field trips were mixed according to where the students were sent.  The course organizers will try to determine which of the sites were not well received and either improve or eliminate them.

Patient Interview in Small Group

Positive: 102

Amazing, fantastic, extremely interesting, very insightful, wonderful patient, eye-opening, moved the disease from the textbook, sobering, made the disease tangible, most interesting part of the course, most useful event of the week, I found myself thinking that I am really in medical school,…..etc.

Constructive comments: 15

Bob Bloodgood who was a facilitator at one of the patient interviews asked that in the future patients be “picked up” from the interview site to allow time for the mentors to meet with the students after the interview. 

How useful was small group in developing learning objectives?

Cells to Society graph
What did you think about developing learning objectives and presenting them to your small group?

      Liked: 87 (68%)                 Disliked: 41 (32%)

      Comments included:

  • It was very beneficial to us as future medical doctors to learn to ask questions, research answers, and present medical finding in a supportive and inquisitive environment.
  • Great aspect of the course because 1) We got a chance to know our classmates better by working with them, 2) We were able to be “mini-professionals” and learned much more about diabetes, and 3) We were able to learn several aspects about diabetes in a short period of time by listening to our classmates’ presentations
  • It forced us to get to know a couple of fellow students in a deeper way;  it allowed faculty to stretch our ways of thinking through follow-up discussion; and it showed us how to research effectively at UVA’s libraries.
  • It was a great idea.  Being able to research and present is the best way for me to learn.  It is unfortunate that there is too much info to do it more often.
  • At first, I thought it was silly busy work. But then once I actually did the research and learned some new information I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, I found the reports to be quite educational.
  • Frustrating to work with total strangers on a vague assignment when we didn’t understand what kind of resources we were expected to use.
  • Very rushed.  I wish I had more time to understand what we were learning.
  • The exercise felt very forced – awkward to work in a small group of strangers, unwieldy to come up with learning objectives, stressful to create a good presentation in so little time. 
  • Next year, the scope of these presentations could be better defined simply by providing a couple more examples of good learning objectives and reports to the class.

What surprised you about this course?

  • Nothing: 38
  • Faculty and school: 19  (high level of involvement, “larger picture” of disease)
  • Program items: 16 (report, activities, free time)
  • Knowledge and learning: 15 (facts, learning modalities)
  • Diabetes: 15 (prevalence, complexity, impact)
  • Patients: 8 (accessible, non-compliant)
  • Fellow students: 3 (wise range of pre-existing knowledge)
  • Doctoring: 1 (role and impact)
  • Critical comments: 3 (no “hard science”, more prep)

What recommendations do you have for improving this course?

  • None: 18
  • Shorten it: 11
  • Better coordination among lecturers: 4
  • More time in/coordination of Resource Fair: 9
  • Smaller/better prepared field trips: 11
    Choice: 6      An additional field trip: 5
  • Eliminate reports: 8
  • More time for Expert Panel: 12

Chris Peterson and the rest of the team will work to address the student concerns gleaned from the evaluations.  They are happy with how well-received the program has been by the students.   They are also very pleased with how successful their recruitment efforts for faculty mentors and speakers has been.  This has not been a problem even next year when the course begins a week earlier in August.   Diabetes will remain the focus of the program for next year’s program, however, other topics will be considered for future years.

William G. Wilson