LECOM Three-Year Primary Care Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree Program receives worldwide attention


One of the world’s widest read academic journals has published a paper on how the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) Primary Care Scholars Pathway will attempt to encourage more medical students to pursue a career in family medicine and internal medicine. Academic Medicine, the monthly journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, publishes articles on the most pressing challenges facing the leaders of medical schools and teaching hospitals today.

The September 2007 issue carries the paper “A Three-Year Accelerated Medical School Curriculum Designed to Encourage and Facilitate Primary Care Careers” co-authored by three LECOM administrators who were instrumental in developing the new curriculum. They are: Hershey S. Bell, MD, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Evaluation; Silvia M. Ferretti, DO, Provost, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs; and Richard A. Ortoski, DO, Associate Professor of Family Medicine.

For the past decade there has been declining medical student interest in primary care. The cause of this trend is multifactorial and includes issues of salary and indebtedness. Educational leaders have called for careful selection of medical students and the creation of three-year medical school curricula to counter these factors.

On April 30, 2006, the American Osteopathic Association Commission on College Accreditation voted to approve a new accelerated curriculum at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) in Erie, Pennsylvania. This pathway accelerates the traditional four-year medical school curriculum into three calendar years. In addition to reducing the time necessary to complete medical training as a primary care physician, this pathway reduces the expense involved in obtaining a medical education.

The Academic Medicine paper describes how LECOM positioned itself to address key strategies believed to be at the heart of rekindling student interest in primary care. In the accelerated curriculum, summer vacation between the first and second medical school year is eliminated. Clinical education is streamlined by focusing on 16 rotations relevant to primary care and eliminating elective experiences. Primary care mentors are assigned at the start of medical school. Case-based capstone sessions are added throughout the clinical years to reinforce primary care concepts.

Students in this curriculum are designated “primary care scholars” to recognize the fact that they are engaged in a rigorous, goal-directed curriculum. Consistent with published recommendations for increasing medical students’ choice of generalist careers, a detailed description of the LECOM accelerated curriculum effort is provided.

Academic Medicine, a peer-reviewed monthly journal, serves as an international forum for the exchange of ideas and information about policy, issues, and research concerning academic medicine, including strengthening the quality of medical education and training, enhancing the search for biomedical knowledge, advancing research in health services, and integrating education and research into the provision of effective health care. The journal is available online at www.academicmedicine.org.

September 27, 2007
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