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Jennifer Adams, MD Begins Implementing a Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship at Denver Health

Jennifer Adams, MD
Continual advancements in medicine make change an inevitable part of practice. Yet there’s one aspect of medicine that has remained largely unchanged: how we educate medical students in clinical settings. 

Jennifer Adams, MD believes the School of Medicine can position itself on the cutting edge of medical education by employing an innovative approach to the clinical clerkship years.

Dr. Adams, an internist and faculty member at Denver Health, is spearheading a pilot project that will immerse a small group of SOM students into a longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) that she believes will benefit students, patients and faculty.

The LIC Offers Students Inpatient Immersions, Long-Term Multi-Specialty Ambulatory Experiences, Didactic Sessions and Independent Study

In an LIC, students will participate in the comprehensive care of a panel of patients over time, an aspect that is limited in the traditional block clerkship. Students will develop continuity in their relationships with faculty preceptors, evaluators, peers and patients, while meeting core clinical competencies across multiple disciplines simultaneously.

The year-long clerkship aims to help students develop a broad view of disease, the patient experience and health care systems. Clinical teams and faculty members will benefit from increased productivity and efficiency as students will develop progressively advanced clinical skills throughout the year and become valued team members. Research also indicates that faculty members experience significant rewards from supporting student growth over time and from developing mentoring relationships with students. [1],[2] 

“Faculty will have a chance to support the education and professional development of students over time, becoming a teacher, mentor, and advisor to individual students.” said Dr. Adams.

Patients also report value in having long-term relationships with students. As students develop a sense of responsibility for individual patients, they serve as patient advocates and help with the transitions across multiple providers and venues of care.[1],[3] 

Approximately eight third-year medical students will have the opportunity to enroll in this program starting in April 2014. Dr. Adams believes the branch campus in Colorado Springs may also offer an opportunity for developing an LIC.

Adams admits there will be challenges associated with such a big change. “Every one of us trained in traditional block clerkships, and it worked for us,” Dr. Adams said. “But the health care system continues to change —from duty hour restrictions to the movement toward team-based medicine and more. Why shouldn’t clinical clerkships also evolve to better meet the educational needs of our students?”

Adams is working with her development team to further develop the curriculum, including evaluation and assessment tools. She’s also working to recruit preceptors and teaching teams and create faculty development programs aimed at assisting in developing this comprehensive learning environment. Click here for more information about LIC and links to existing programs.

  1. Walters, et al. Outcomes of longitudinal integrated clinical placements for students, clinicians and society. Med Educ 2012; 46: 1028-1041
  2. Teherani, et al. Burden, responsibility, and reward: preceptor experiences with the continuity of teaching in a longitudinal integrated clerkship.  Acad Med 2009; 84: 850-853.
  3. Poncelet, et al.  Development of a longitudinal integrated clerkship at an academic medical centre. Med Educ Online 2011; 16: 5939.