Harvard Medical School has debuted a major set of changes to its curriculum that the school says will cater to a generation of technologically savvy students and will better prepare them for an ever-changing health care environment.
The changes, which began for first-year students this academic year, don't alter the content of the classes so much as their order, and they transform how professors use time with students in the classroom.
Students for the first time will complete clinical rotations in a hospital earlier, in the second rather than third year of medical school. The school is also changing its pedagogical style.
Gone are the days when a professor stood at the front of a cavernous classroom, ticking through slides as students robotically annotated PowerPoint printouts. Students are now expected to memorize facts on their own time and come to class ready to think on their feet and work in groups, rather than listen to a lecture.
Harvard's updated curriculum is designed for the smartphone generation of students, who take for granted the ability to find information quickly and are less apt to read dense textbooks, professors say.
"My job, in the time that we're together, student and teacher, is to teach you what you can't Google," said Richard M. Schwartzstein, a Harvard professor who helped develop the new curriculum.
The steps are similar to those taken by several other top medical schools, including Vanderbilt University, the University of Oregon, and New York University, and are underway at many others, including Georgetown and Drexel universities.