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September 7, 2011

Capturing Curricula

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

JAMA. 2011;306(9):997-998. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1266

Medical school educational leaders are accustomed to frequent survey requests about curriculum content. The range of topics involved provides a window into various pressures for curricular content from within and outside the profession, reflecting changes in medical knowledge, technology, or the social context in which medicine is practiced or sometimes seemingly motivated more by popular or political currency. In the midst of the last decade, for example, there was considerable interest in the teaching of bioterrorism—to some extent appropriate to a need for readiness on the part of physicians but likely also aimed at better positioning the academic medical community for public approval and funding. Another survey a few years ago explored the teaching of biological evolution in medical schools. Taken together, perhaps as a meta-analysis of published information through the years, there would be a great deal to learn from these studies about the evolution of medical curricula and their responsiveness to shifts in cultural norms.