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Curriculum Mapping Project Meets Major Milestone Because of Director of Curriculum Michele Doucette


What happens when you inventory 37 program competencies, 450 course goals, 7,843 learning objectives and 3,913 unique MeSH terms?

You get a detailed map of the core curriculum offered by the University of Colorado School of Medicine (SOM).

Michele M. Doucette, PhD and her team have been working with students, faculty, course directors and deans to collect, assess and validate all elements of the SOM’s core curriculum.

The mapping project began in April 2014, when Doucette stepped into the role of Director of Curriculum, Undergraduate Medical Education. By October 31, 2014, the team hit a major milestone: The SOM curriculum was mapped according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Curriculum Inventory and Reports requirements and uploaded into the AAMC Curriculum Inventory database. This centralized resource is the premier benchmarking and reporting tool on content, structure, delivery and assessment of medical school curricula.

Doucette says the milestone was met thanks to the help of many on campus. “It took a village,” says Doucette. “From medical students and faculty to course directors and assistant deans, so many people were totally engaged in this. And the work of the nine curriculum team coordinators was invaluable.”

“I am so impressed by how engaged the faculty are in supporting the curriculum mapping project. There have been very few barriers to accomplishing what we need to accomplish. It took everyone being on board in a short period of time. It’s an accomplishment.”

The impetus for the project came from the AAMC’s Medical Academic Performance Services, a program that helps medical schools assess their achievement of education and accreditation standards. It’s likely that curriculum maps will become a requirement for medical school accreditation in the near future.

Doucette believes faculty and students alike will see benefits from this project. Faculty will be able to log in and see where a course fits within the overall medical school curriculum. It will aid with course evaluation and design, as well as provide a resource for curriculum redesign.

“We’ll be able to see how we’re meeting the needs of our students, and find gaps and redundancies in the education our students receive,” says Doucette.

Currently, Doucette can run detailed reports for faculty members, but as soon as next year she expects faculty to be able to run reports themselves.

In the next few years, students will benefit from curriculum mapping in a variety of ways. Through an interactive user interface, students will be able to search by keyword, allowing them to “at-a-glance” know when they were taught or when to expect to learn about certain topics.  All the information will be connected to student grades, coursework, and interactive student learning portfolios. 

“Our hope, as our abilities advance, is to eventually be able to map our curriculum to long-term student data—following them into residency and careers so we’re able to assess the effectiveness of our program,” says Doucette.

Although Doucette has helped the SOM reach its first milestone of the project, she’s not one to rest on her laurels. “This is an ongoing process—this will never stop,” says Doucette. “We will keep reviewing and updating and validating—it’s a never ending process.”

Doucette is thrilled to be working within the Undergraduate Medical Education office. “This entire group is fantastic. Everyone cares so much about our students and, making their education the best it can be.”

As for all that data, Doucette admits it’s something she’s well-suited for. “This is my dream job,” she says. “Before I got my PhD, I was a systems engineer. I’m used to putting pieces together and making them work effectively.”​