Penn State College of Medicine curriculum sees biggest change ever

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Aug 11, 2014 4:10 AM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Susan Skochelak, Group Vice President for the American Medical Association's Medical Education, says she's very impressed with Penn State's work with the grant.

(Hershey) -- Students starting at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey are among the first to try a new curriculum that re-shapes a doctor’s responsibilities.

With classes like population health and patient navigation, students are learning about the health care system, not just the science of taking care of a patient.

Instructors will also show how insurance coverage, finances and transportation can affect a patient’s decisions, and they’ll encourage budding doctors to act more like navigators for the health care system.

Dr. Jed Gonzalo, assistant dean for health systems education at the college, says in the past, the topic would only come up in passing.

“Ours is very explicit, and even the title of our course labels it as such: the Systems Navigation Curriculum. We are focused on the signs of health systems, and it’s not an implicit thing that might pop up here and there."

“There are probably some small things that were removed, but for the most part, we tried to perform a lean improvement process on our own curriculum. We sort of streamlined it and said look this is a key pillar, we’re gonna start here from scratch and we’re gonna streamline the other areas to make it as self directed and high leverage of a curriculum as we could make it.”

A million dollar grant from the American Medical Association is funding the curriculum changes.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center provides funding to WITF's Transforming Health project.

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