University of Virginia School of
Principles of Medicine Committee
- USMLE Step 1 Review Course:
Sixtine Valdelievre gave a detailed report on the first USMLE Step 1 review course, which was organized by SMEC and run by 1st year course directors during January and February 2008. 45 minute lunchtime sessions were held 2X a week; medical students chose the review questions using USMLEasy on the HSL website and commercially available review books and provided them to the 1st year faculty as Powerpoint files. The faculty then added slides providing background information necessary to address the questions. The final Powerpoint presentations for all sessions, as well as audio recordings for some of the sessions, have been posted to a special portion of the SMEC website created by Armin Razavi.
Problems that arose included: A) room scheduling issues and B) problems in getting the sets of review schedules to faculty in a timely manner and C) attendance.
SMEC conducted a post-course survey of the medical students:
1) Did you find the review useful?
55 total responses, 54 YES, 1 NO
2) Are you interested in attending future reviews in a similar format?
55 responses, 54 YES, 1 MAYBE
3) Selected Comments:
* "More time to think about each question" * "List of topics in each area" * "An explanation of why the wrong answers are wrong is helpful too" * "Good review, to the point" * "Concise, and easy to follow - perfect!" * "Please go slower" * "Great, thanks!" * "Can you tape/record it?" * "Well-prepared, relevant, great idea" * "Excellent, Keep them coming
The Principles of Medicine Committee discussed the Review Course and agreed that there is a need for this course and that it should be continued. Even after the new USMLE combined Step 1 is introduced, there will still be a need for a similar basic sciences review course at this time in the curriculum because there will likely be a replacement cumulative basic sciences exam given at the end of basic sciences. Some faculty who participated in the review course were concerned about the low attendance, which became pronounced during the last sessions, probably because of the impending cumulative final course exams.
- New Course Examination Policy:
The Curriculum Committee unanimously approved a motion that all formal course examinations are required activities. Failure to take seriously the understanding and mastery of knowledge necessary for patient care should be recorded in the student's file as a breach of professionalism. See:
- Review of the Fall 2007 1st year course
The course reports for all of the Fall 2007 1st year courses are available at:
Cumulative data on course performance by the medical students and course evaluations by the medical students were presented at the meeting and are shown below:
Student Course Performance Data
Mean score for 04-05
Mean score for 05-06
Mean score for 06-07
Mean score for 07-08
Last yr old
1st yr new
2nd yr new
3rd yr new
Med & Mol Genetics
Mean of all courses
Course Evaluation Data:
Last yr old
1st yr new
2nd yr new
3rd yr new
Med & Mol Genetics
Cells to Society
These data were discussed. The biggest change in both course performance and overall course evaluation score occurred for the Gross Anatomy course. Biochemistry also saw a reduction in student performance but a large increase in student evaluation score. The Gross Anatomy results are not surprising given the fact that course was dramatically restructured this year; since Dr. McCollum (the course director) was out of town, the Gross Anatomy course will be discussed at the March meeting of the Principles of Medicine Committee. Selina Noramly pointed out that Biochemistry had more failures than usual on the first course exam and medical students needed much more individualized help than in previous years.
- New tool for Exam Scoring: UVa has
developed a sophisticated web took for manipulating the data obtained
from scanning Scantron exam answer sheets. It is called Scan
& Score and can be found at:
Use your regular e-mail log-in information. After the Office of Medical Education (or any other site on campus) scans your Scantron forms, the data is available for manipulation on the web site. Course directors are able to delete questions, change the correct answers for questions, or accept multiple correct answers for a question and then regrade the exam instantly. Course directors can also do subscores based on a selected set of students (such as MSTP students or Generalist Initiative Students or Male students) or a selected set of test questions (on a particular topic) and then obtain the test data immediately. One can look at a list of the questions missed by any individual student.
- Scantron sheet and student ID for course
examinations: UVa has just recently switched from
the Green Scantron sheets (which were only recently introduced when the
University switched from use of Social Security numbers to Computer ID
numbers for exams) to a new Purple Scantron sheet. The only
difference between the Green and Purple Scantron sheets is an extra row
on the right for entering the student ID data. This was done in
anticipation of issuing new 10 digit ID numbers to University students.
However, please note that the School of Medicine will continue to
use the student computer IDs for all examinations and for distributing
exam scores and course grades to medical students using the Grade Book
tool within the Faculty Toy Box.
- Praise and Concern Cards: Course directors
were reminded of the existence of the Praise and Early Concern Cards
and encouraged to use them both, when appropriate, and to bring these
to the attention of the faculty teaching in your course. This tool can
be accessed via The Faculty Source page; in the upper right hand
corner, there is a link called "Feedback Forms". The direct URL
to the Praise and Early Concern Forms is:
These were designed particularly to cover issues related to professionalism, but also have a category called "excellence and scholarship".
- Pass With Distinction (Cumulative Honors) Feature of
Faculty are reminded that the Pass With Distinction (cumulative honors) feature of the original pass/fail grading system has been eliminated and will NOT be in effect for the Class of 2011 (this year's 1st year medical class).
- 4th annual ADE Medical Education Poster
Course Directors were reminded of the upcoming ADE medical education poster session, which will be held from February 18-22, 2008, in the corridor in front of the Health Sciences Library. For the first time, posters are being accepted in two categories: 1) medical education research and 2) innovations in medical education. This resulted in more posters being accepted (27) than in either of the previous two years. This year, there are many more posters than ever before that relate to 1st and 2nd years of the curriculum (Gross Anatomy, Neurosciences, Social Issues in Medicine). Several posters are authored by medical students. Two events are being held in conjunction with the poster session: 1) Medical Center Hour talk by Janet Hafler (Tufts University) on "Beyond, not by, the numbers: qualitative research in medical education" on Wed, Feb 22nd at 12:30 and 2) Reception in the HSL from 5:00-7:00 PM on Feb 22nd (with remarks by Dean Hostler). Information about the posters presented at all of the past ADE poster sessions can be found on the web at:
- How to promote discussions within small groups:
Julie Turner led a discussion on a recent article in the UVa Teaching Resource Center Newsletter on techniques for promoting effective discussion in a small group teaching setting. This article is available on the web at:
- The next meeting of the Principles of Medicine Committee
will be held on Wednesday, March 12, 2008, at 2:00 PM.