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MD Curriculum Renewal

The latest updates and plans (Updated Feb. 10, 2021)

Curricular planning

The curriculum renewal process began in November 2019 when the Medical Curriculum Committee created a task force to renew the curriculum and determine how it could be enhanced and renewed to align with the strengths and goals of Geisinger. The task force members include representation from scientists and clinicians, and from our affiliate campus in Guthrie.

Curriculum Task Force members include:

  • Neil Holland, MD (Co-Chair) Interim Chair, Neurosciences Institute
  • William Jeffries, PhD (Co-Chair), Vice Dean for Medical Education
  • John Arnott, PhD, Chair, Department of Medical Education
  • Ying Sung, PhD, Professor of Anatomy
  • James Walsh, MD, Regional Assistant Dean, Guthrie Campus
  • Namita Sharma, MD, Hematology/Oncology
  • Janet Townsend, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
  • Mushfiq Tarafder, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology
  • Andrea DiMattia, EdD, Associate Dean for Education Administration
  • Antony Han, Medical Student, Year 3
  • Meredith Hanrahan, Medical Student, Year 3

Steven J. Scheinman, MD, president and dean of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM), charged the task force to propose a curriculum, including the vision, program objectives, themes of longitudinal study, teaching approach and courses that would:

  • Integrate basic and clinical sciences throughout the curriculum.
  • Establish signature pedagogies founded in evidence-based active learning.
  • Propose essential active roles for students in the clinical environment with progressively increased levels of responsibility throughout training.
  • Align curriculum outcomes with system/regional needs.
  • Ensure graduates are prepared to become excellent residents.

At the Medical Curriculum Committee Meeting on Jan. 28, 2020 the vision and program objectives for the renewed curriculum were approved.


GCSOM trains skilled compassionate physicians who provide individualized care of patients and promote health in the communities they serve. Our graduates are resilient, collaborative, ready to participate and assume leadership, in evolving healthcare settings.

Program curriculum objectives

All graduates will have demonstrated accomplishment of the following six areas of competency:

1. Patients, Families and Communities

1.1 Demonstrate insight and understanding of patients' and families’ emotions and the human response. Build trust with patients and their families.

1.2 Communicate effectively with patients, families and the public across diverse backgrounds.

1.3 Counsel, advocate for and educate patients and their families to empower them to participate in their care and enable shared decision-making.

1.4 Employ effective knowledge of the social determinants of health and populations of patients when advocating for optimal solutions for health issues facing patients and communities.

1.5 Practice sensitivity, honesty and compassion in difficult conversations, including those about death, end of life, adverse events, bad news, disclosure of errors and other sensitive topics.

2. Personal and Professional Development

2.1 Adhere to the tenants of professionalism which include altruism, accountability, duty, excellence, honesty, integrity, respect for others and responsibility.

2.2 Engage in lifelong personal and professional development and socialization into the medical community of practice.

2.3 Set learning and improvement goals and incorporate feedback into daily practice to ensure a lifelong commitment to the understanding of current medical knowledge and practices.

2.4 Identify strengths, deficiencies and limits in one’s knowledge and expertise and perform learning activities that address one’s gaps in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes.

2.5 Participate in the education of patients, families, students, trainees, peers, members of the community and other health professionals and incorporate feedback into daily practice.

2.6 Use the knowledge of one’s own role and the roles of other health professionals to facilitate the maintenance of an effective healthcare team.

2.7 Recognize and put into practice strategies that promote self-care to maintain effectiveness and well-being.

3. Health Systems Science

3.1 Discuss the core financial, legal, structural, policy and regulatory aspects of the United States healthcare system and their impact on the delivery of healthcare.

3.2 Examine how quality improvement, patient safety and innovation can improve the various healthcare delivery models.

3.3 Demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of care, confidentiality, informed consent and business practices, including compliance with relevant laws, policies and regulations.

3.4 Engage in identifying medical errors and implementing potential systems solutions.

3.5 Effectively communicate and work with other health professionals to establish, develop and continuously enhance interprofessional teams to provide patient- and population-centered care that is safe, timely, efficient, effective and equitable.

3.6 Systematically analyze practice using quality improvement methods, and implement changes with the goal of practice improvement.

3.7 Incorporate considerations of cost awareness, risk-benefit analysis and community needs in patient and/or population-based care.

4. Critical Thinking

4.1 Formulate clinical questions, appraise and apply evidence-based medicine to provide quality healthcare to individuals and populations.

4.2 Make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence and clinical judgment.

4.3 Contribute to the creation, dissemination, application and translation of new healthcare knowledge and practices.

5. Clinical Skills

5.1 Conduct and document complete and focused medical histories and physical examinations, and recognize factors including age, gender, sociocultural factors, socioeconomic status, family history and emotional state.

5.2 Gather and interpret pertinent and accurate information about patients and their conditions through the use of laboratory data, imaging and other tests.

5.3 Identify and propose a treatment and management plan for acute and chronic diseases.

5.4 Perform appropriate medical, diagnostic and surgical procedures essential for the patient care.

5.5 Organize and prioritize responsibilities to provide care that is safe, effective and efficient.

5.6 Provide appropriate referral of patients including ensuring continuity of care throughout transitions between providers or settings, and following up on patient progress and outcomes.

5.7 Provide healthcare services to patients, families and communities aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health.

5.8 Perform appropriate supervisory responsibilities commensurate with one’s roles, abilities and qualifications on a healthcare team.

6. Knowledge for Practice

6.1 Apply established and emerging foundational scientific principles fundamental to healthcare for patients and populations.

6.2 Apply established and emerging principles of clinical sciences to diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making, clinical problem-solving and other aspects of evidence-based healthcare.

6.3 Apply principles of social-behavioral sciences to provision of patient care, including assessment of the impact of psychosocial and cultural influences on health, disease, care seeking, care compliance and barriers to and attitudes toward care.

6.4 Apply principles of populational health sciences to the identification of health problems, risk factors, treatment strategies, resources and disease prevention/health promotion efforts for patients and populations.

Curriculum themes

In addition to the vision and program objectives, the task force proposed themes for the curriculum that would focus on areas that GCSOM would be known for. These themes continue to evolve in the planning process. These six themes will be vertically and horizontally integrated throughout the curriculum. Each theme has faculty identified to monitor and coordinate the implementation and evaluation of the theme content.

  • Social Justice & Equity: Dr. Na Tosha Gatson
  • Health System Citizenship (IPE): Drs. Bruce Levy and Margrit Shoemaker
  • Primary Care: Drs. Janet Townsend and Kim Kovalick
  • Personal and Professional Development (PIF): Drs. Michelle Schmude, Halle Ellison, Tanya Adonizio and Julia Kolcharno, MS
  • Community Immersion: Dr. William Jeffries
  • Population Health: Dr. Mushfiqur Tarafder

Task Force sub-committees

The task force is monitoring the process of the curriculum renewal and making regular reports to the Medical Curriculum Committee (MCC). To ensure that faculty are participating broadly in the renewal process the task force has charged four sub-committees to create and provide oversite for various portions of the curriculum. These sub-committees/work groups provide regular updates to the task force and to the MCC.

  1. Pre-clinical Education
  2. Clinical Education
  3. Theme Groups
  4. M3 Assessment Work Group

Proposed preclinical 2021-2022

View the proposed preclinical 2021-2022 chart here.

Currently the preclinical work group is developing an 18-month preclinical curriculum that would start in August 2021. This curriculum would consist of two courses, Integrated Science Course (ISC) and Patient and Physician Centered Care (PPCC). The framework for the Integrated Science Course (ISC) will consist of blocks of clinical presentations of disease. This course will be broken into blocks, using a similar format of the current Systems 1 and Systems 2 course. Each block will have an exam and time will be built in for self-directed learning. Students will be required to prepare prior to class to be ready for class discussions and activities. The final name for the course and for the proposed blocks is still to be determined. Specific time for thread content will be reserved in both the ICS course and the PPCC course.

Proposed clerkships 2021-2022

View the potential layout of curriculum weeks here.

Eight-week block clerkships are being considered based on our academic institute structure. The clerkships are housed in the Medicine Institute (Medicine and Family Medicine), Surgery Institute, Women’s and Children’s Institute (OB-GYN and Pediatrics), Neuroscience Institute (Neurology and Psychiatry) and the Ambulatory Block would be under the supervision of Family Medicine with support and participation of some other disciplines as well. The education leads from each of the institutes are working with their Institute Education Committees to consider content and additional education requirements for the clerkships. There is currently a workgroup that is specifically reviewing and making recommendation for changes to the clerkship assessment tool. This group is also looking at the minimum expectations for student’s performance as they enter the clerkships and the expectations for the students as they are promoted to the M4 experience.

Proposed M4 experience 2021-2022

View the proposed M4 experience 2021-2022 chart here.

The current proposed structure for the M4 year for 2021-2022 would include twenty elective weeks, twelve of which would be patient care and eight would be non-patient care. The education leads from all Institutes are discussing potential additional in system electives that can be added to increase options for our students. We are also monitoring the national conversations regarding the availability of away rotations as that will also be important to the M4 planning process.